Breaking social media hate code gives Bengal police a headache

Miscreants are using code words in social media to incite hatred and communal violence in West Bengal and other parts of the country and also to maintain their contacts over the social media.

Published: 24th June 2018 08:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th June 2018 08:32 AM   |  A+A-

KOLKATA: Miscreants are using code words in social media to incite hatred and communal violence in West Bengal and other parts of the country and also to maintain their contacts over the social media. However, what is more worrying is that the police is finding the codes difficult to crack.

Police has found that miscreants operating across the states are using fake profiles and groups to spread communal hatred in an organised manner. But the state police has not been able to find a pattern to decrypt the codes being used to create communal tension.

The matter was also discussed in detail in the recently-held Union Home Ministry-organised meeting of Director General of Police (DGP) of different states where suggestions were given by the different DGPs to tackle the problem, sources in the state police headquarters at Lalbazar said. The police suspect involvement of economically and politically powerful people behind the organised spread of hatred.
Accordingly, the police has asked its officials in all the 23 districts of West Bengal to stay sharp for possible codes floating on the social media that could be used incite communal violence and have been told to coordinate closely with the Cyber Cell to decode the codes.

“Earlier, the people inciting communal hatred were easily tracked and we had evidence of the crime because of the direct nature of the posts or comments. However, nowadays, miscreants are using fake profiles and codes of emoticons, numbers and letters to spread communal hatred and to stay in close touch with each other.

These networks are generally inter-state and better coordination is needed among the state police forces to better tackle this menace,” an official in the Cyber Cell of the West Bengal Police said.

The state government has planned new law to tackle spread of fake new and is moving towards creation of a database of people who were involved in spread of fake news that led to unrest in different parts of the state. Several police officials believe that the persons spreading fake news may be linked with the group  of people using codes to spread communal hatred.

“Without fake news, the spread of communal tension is not possible. The nexus is very deep and has to be dealt with an iron fist,” a top police officer in the state said.

Social Media ‘codes’ to engineer riots

What are these codes?
‘Codes’ involve emoticons, numbers and letters posted in closed Facebook or WhatsApp groups to incite communal hatred; codes also used to interact between miscreants

Is it limited to West Bengal?
No. The phenomenon is fast spreading across north, east and Northeast India, too.

Any success in decoding codes?
Not yet.

Big fishes involved?
Police suspect involvement of economically and politically powerful people behind the organised spread of hatred.

Any incidents of communal violence in West Bengal through social media?
The 2017 Basirhat riots in North 24 Parganas district was fuelled by a meme on Prophet Mohammad. One person was killed. Rumours spread through social media led to riots in Asansol and Raniganj of Paschim Burdwan district claiming four lives.

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