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A martyred site
Vijayinkargil.org slips into porn after having served the army and collecting millions for it
Anita Bora |
August 08, 2003 11:40 IST
A site dedicated to Kargil martyrs and one that raised hundreds of thousands of rupees for the soldiers' families has suddenly gone porn.
And though the media's usual suspect is malicious hacking, Rediff Guide to the Net found that to be a very remote possibility.
Instead the story is more likely about neglect and 'domain hijacking'.
The most probable scenario is this: When the 'vijayinkargil.org' domain name's registration came up for renewal, the owner neglected to take action. And soon after, the domain name became available for purchase. Pornographers bought it in the hope that people visiting vijayinkargil.org would stumble across the porn and some might click through.
Vijayinkargil.org was not just a tribute to the martyrs of Kargil. It had collected about Rs 7 million for the bereaved families. Then why did the site's owner let its registration expire and allow it to fall prey to pornographers?
To answer the question, we searched for the original owner of the site. As of this report being uploaded, all the players involved with the site are still unsure about who actually owned the legitimate vijayinkargil.org!
That should explain the fate of the site.
Will the owner own up?
Rajesh Jain, who owned IndiaWorld Communications, created vijayinkargil.org in 1999. "We were in the business of Web site development... The domain name was registered by my company and the material was provided by the Indian Army," Jain explains. He, however, does not remember who actually owned the site.
An army spokesperson told rediff.com, "It was not an official site. We were just asked to link to it from the official one, which we did."
Besides Jain and the army, the next possible owner is Sify, the Web portal that bought IndiaWorld Communications.
When contacted, a Sify spokesperson denied that the company had anything to do with the site, ever. He claimed it is "not owned by IndiaWorld Communications as such it has not been purchased by Sify and does not belong to Sify… This is a case where this site was built to showcase the operations in Kargil for the India Army by IndiaWorld Communications prior to Sify purchasing it."
Jain agrees: "Sify would not have known about it (vijayinkargil.org)." He explains the situation by recollecting that IndiaWorld did host the site on one of its servers for a while but "there were no updates on the site after the war. So there was no maintenance required. Since it was not a revenue generating activity there would probably have been no record of it in the accounts."
With no owners to claim it and the site having "served its purpose", the domain name lapsed. Consequently it was snapped up by pornographers. And today vijayinkargil.org has become a porn site!
Where's the money gone?
But the story does not end here. What about the millions of rupees that vijayinkargil.org collected? Surely the entity that collected the donations must have a better understanding of who actually owned the site and how it lapsed?
Samachar.com, a news site under the IndiaWorld umbrella, was used to promote vijayinkargil.org's fundraiser. This was targeted mainly at NRIs.
Jain estimates they collected about Rs 5- 7 million. He says that the army and its coordinating officer were both aware of all activities including the money collected. "The money was routed via an ICICI Bank account to the Indian Army for the Kargil effort," Jain confirms.
However, at that point of time, the San Jose Mercury News reported "The Indian army has set up an Internet site (www.vijayinkargil.org) calling on expatriates around the world to contribute money for the families of dead Indian soldiers. An official of the Indian Consulate in San Francisco estimated that US contributions to the Indian army fund totaled $23 million."
But, the army spokesperson says that no one is aware of any funds raised by the Indian Army through the site. He even goes on to say it is an outright lie. When quizzed about the possibility that he might not be aware of the fundraising as there might have been another coordinating officer at that time, he retorts: "That is not possible. The information is untrue. We are a unit and we function as one."
Yet, when asked about the whereabouts of the officer that coordinated the vijayinkargil.org operation, he said he was unaware of his location as army officials are constantly transferred!
Domain hijacking or malicious hacking
A newspaper report claimed vijayinkargil.org has been hacked. And so has been the lookup service, 'Whois', that gives information about a site's owner. But the experts that rediff.com contacted did not find this to be likely.
A current Whois search reveals that vijayinkargil.org is now registered by a company called Clikcash.com. It bought the domain in 2002 for a Sergei Letyagin.
Security expert S Srinivasan feels it is unlikely that the site has been hacked or the Whois information has been tampered with. It is more likely that a real party is cashing in on the popularity of the URL.
According to technology specialist and Mumbai lawyer, George Vivek Durai, "The question that arises is whether this is really a case of domain name re-direction or alleged cyber-squatting." He adds: "Domain name re-direction is really hacking by amateurs and the press does tend to get carried away in countries like India where some site owners are totally clueless on systems administration and security."
Jain says, "I don't think it is a case of hacking. It is probably just a matter of the domain not being renewed after it expired at some point of time."
The other vijayinkargil
Vijayinkkargil.com, not .org, is another site with similar pornographic content. Obviously the pornographers are booking similar sounding domain names to squeeze as much juice as they can out of this Kargil issue.
Many patriotic sites like JAL news, Indian Embassy (Germany), PVS Jagan, India Catalog and MavicaNET continue to link to the now pornographic site.
Regardless of the outcome, a certain Russian gentleman will definitely have the last laugh.