Cybercrooks on prowl

editorial

Deputy Commissioner,  Pulwama,  Baseer ul Haq Choudhary has become the latest victim of cybercriminals. Online fraudsters created Choudhary’s fake Facebook account and started demanding money and favors from the public. Last June, secretary tribal affairs department Dr. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary wrote to cyber police after an imposter used his image as Display Picture on a fake WhatsApp number to extract money from the people. For the last few months, cyber fraudsters are on the prowl. They are targeting who is who of Kashmir. Gauging the seriousness of the matter, Cyberpolice launched a massive campaign to educate people about online fraudsters.  Leading the chorus is SSP, Cyber Crime, Sandeep Chaudhary. He released a video warning people against different types of cybercrimes.  He had particularly warned people against ‘sextortion’. Fears of law enforcement agencies came true when police busted a sextortion gang and arrested three persons including a husband-wife duo in Srinagar. For the last six months, the gang had extracted Rs 40 by blackmailing influential people. The matter does not end here. Recently, porn content was live streamed on Instagram in Kashmir. Cyber Police registered a case and launched an investigation against Instagram subscribers.  Cybercrimes have recorded a 28 percent increase in 2021. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported that 154 cases of cyber crimes were registered in J&K last year. Nearly 120 cases of cybercrimes were reported in 2020. The number was 73 in 2019. Cybercrime rate has increased by around 110 percent in the last two years. Around 45 cases related to the publication and transmission of obscene and sexually explicit acts were reported last year. NCRB has revealed that 39 cybercrimes were committed against women and four against children. Similarly, there were six cases of cyberstalking, and bullying of women and children. Jammu and Kashmir has been on the radar of cybercriminals for a long time. Even social media is being misused to create unrest and mistrust among communities besides spreading hatred in the country. Criminals are increasingly misusing technological advancements and posing serious threats to society. The need of the hour is to address these challenges, keep law enforcement agencies ahead of criminals, and protect the lives of civilians and infrastructure.  Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS)  launched by centre is a welcome step. It will help in cracking the whip against cyber criminals. Society too needs to remain alert and flag any suspicious account, phone number, or social media page. Alertness is key to preventing crimes in society. We need to shun inhibitions and support law enforcement agencies in combating cybercrimes.