Word for Peace
NEW DELHI: With radicalisation, mostly online, and cyber crimes emerging as major security challenges, the Modi government has decided to create two new divisions in the home ministry to shape up policy and response to these new-age threats.
The two new divisions — counter-radicalisation and cyber security — are likely to be created as part of an administrative restructuring plan that will see the merger of four existing divisions of the home ministry into two.
The judicial division and centre-state divisions are being rolled into one, as are international cooperation and public grievances divisions. “Though home ministry will continue to have 18 divisions even after the restructuring, eliminating the need for Cabinet approval, consolidation of four divisions into two will create space for two additional divisions headed by joint-secretary level officers. The structural changes are likely to take effect in the next few days, possibly within this month,” said a home ministry functionary.
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While the counter-radicalisation division will focus on tracking and assessing the online reach of global terrorist outfits like the Islamic State terror group and devising strategies to counter their propaganda, the cyber security division will monitor online crimes and threats, including cyber fraud and hacking, and suggest ways to minimise and fight them.
“Online radicalisation has become a global phenomenon, given the growing use of social media by terrorists outfits for propaganda. Though this problem is not too pronounced in India, with only a few youth influenced enough to join IS or travel to Iraq/Syria, the need for a counter-radicalisation division and policy was felt as Union home minister Rajnath Singh was keen that the problem be ” nipped in the bud,” said a home ministry officer.
The officer said that even though online radicalisation has only had a limited influence on young Indian Muslims, with their families acting as buffer against attempts by IS elements to lure them to fight in Iraq/Syria, “this does not mean we don’t have trends available that will help devise strategies to nip the problem in the bud”. “We can’t be complacent and need to think ahead. The new division, which is likely to hire domain experts, will seek to formulate a counter-radicalisation strategy and an elaborate action-plan to operationalise it,” said the officer. IS’ online propaganda has found some traction among Indian Muslims, with around 70-80, mostly from Kerala, estimated to have left the country for IS-controlled territories in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The cyber security division of the MHA is being formed as Rajnath Singh, concerned at the exponential growth in cyber crimes, had been insisting for some time for a dedicated wing to track and counter online fraud, hacking, identity theft, dark net, trafficking and even cyber attacks on critical infrastructure. “Though some overlap with other ministries like IT and agencies is expected, the home ministry for now will handle all that its Internal Security-I division is handling as part of cyber and online surveillance. The remit may be reviewed as and when coordination issues crop up,” said an officer.