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NE exodus: Pakistan used LeT tactic to target India

August 20, 2012 12:16 IST

Cyber armies in Pakistan have often defaced Indian websites but this is the first time they attempted to replicate the Lashkar module by using homegrown modules to further terror. Vicky Nanjappa reports.

Pakistan had a role in the panic that led to the exodus of North-East Indians from several parts of the country. While India has proof of this, what is significant is that Pakistan has managed to replicate what it usually does in its terror campaign against India.  

Sources who are part of the investigation told rediff.com that the cyber campaign by Pakistan against India is exactly like the terror campaign that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba launched against India.

The panic campaign that Pakistan launched had an Indian hand as well, as some of their well-wishers in India helped spread the message. The cyber terrorists at Pakistan used the same model that the Lashkar used to spread terror in India. The Lashkar which carried out almost all attacks on Indian soil relied on Indian modules such as SIMI and the Indian Mujahideen to spread terror.

What the cyber army did in Pakistan was use to Indian accounts on social media sites and also some websites to spread the panic across India.

The Indian investigator's report shows that morphed images were used and pictures and messages were uploaded through 70 sites. In addition to this, bulk messages were also sent to add to the panic.

Intelligence Bureau officials say that freewheelers in Pakistan with the support of the establishment have used the cyber space to attack developing nations like India. This was a campaign that was launched a decade ago and continues unabated till date. "Pakistan tends to call these people as non state actors, but we are convinced that they enjoy the support of the establishment. Creating discord and panic while disturbing communal harmony has been top on their agenda," said an IB officer.

In the latest probe it has been found that Pakistan has been trying to create assets in India like they did with the SIMI and the IM. When the images and the messages originated out of Pakistan, there were many modules in India that grabbed this and blindly circulated it thus leading to the panic.

The fact that this material was created since July shows that it was a well-planned operation. The Pakistan cyber army has been told to hunt for homegrown modules in India. The homegrown cyber modules act as carriers of the propaganda which makes the job easier. It was also found during the agitation that many local leaders used this propaganda to fuel tensions and not to mention the scores of so called activists who blindly passed on this information without checking the veracity of the messages.

Sources say that this probably is one of the first online campaigns that Pakistan has attempted and has succeeded.

Although the cyber armies in Pakistan have often defaced Indian websites, this is the first time they are attempting to replicate the Lashkar module by using homegrown modules to further terror.

India needs to be extremely watchful of this new tactic since the web could be a highly dangerous space as it is largely not monitored. The cyber groups in Pakistan will continue to lure many in India to create fake profiles and pages so that in the years to come they could spread panic and terror which would emerge out of the Indian servers, just the way it was done with the Indian Mujahideen.

Pakistan would want even cyber terror to become self-sufficient like the other form of terrorism, say IB officials.
They are aware that creating such assets or modules in India could help them a great deal as they always want to ensure that there is panic in India but no finger should be pointed at them.

This art of false propaganda is not something new for Pakistan. Today it is happening on the web space while 15 years back it was through pamphlets and later compact discs.

Post Babri masjid and also Godhra, the Indian agencies had found loads of such pamphlets and CDs in Kashmir that contained morphed images and false messages. On verifying it, it was found that most of them were fake and were aimed at brainwashing the youths to take up arms against India.

Ironically, such material is still available online and also with some persons who subscribe to Pakistan's version of jihad.

The probe has further found that knowing fully that the Assam conflict was an ethnic one, these elements tried to colour it communal. They also wanted some right wing groups to retaliate, which would mean that there would be more panic.

Irresponsible statements by some politicians, the enthusiasm by some activists, sensationalism by the media, Pakistan's own capabilities on the web were all factors that went into the planning and execution of this huge plan that displaced lakhs of people.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore