Srinagar: The Home Ministry of India on Wednesday said that it has no plans to ban Whatsapp in Jammu and Kashmir. The popular social media application has been reported to have been misused to spread videos, propaganda and even gather people for stone-pelting in militancy-hit Kashmir, but the Home Ministry is choosing to let it be because it is difficult to monitor it.
Minister of State (MoS) for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir stated this in a written reply to a question asked by Rajya Sabha member KR Arjunan.The reply stated, “Because of encryption and propriety coding-decoding technique being used by Voice over Internet Protocol provider, it is not possible to monitor the communication being provided by such service (providers)”.
Arjunan had sought a response from the government about its plans to block WhatsApp in militancy-hit areas in Jammu and Kashmir.
The ministry further admitted that the security agencies find it difficult to track calls made using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
The MoS also stated that stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir had come down during the suspension of military operations in the month of Ramzan.
“During the period from May 17 to June 17, 2018, as many as 117 incidents of stone pelting were reported in Jammu and Kashmir as against 219 during the period of April 15 to May 16, 2018,” Ahir said in the Rajya Sabha.
Last month, many New Delhi-based media outlets had reported that the government may ban the use of WhatsApp because it was being widely used by “anti-national forces” to stir up unrest in disturbed areas and to spread communal content as well as rumours.
A meeting was held under the chairmanship of home secretary Rajiv Gauba where the arrests in connection with the attack at Nagrota Army camp in 2016 were discussed. The arrested militants of Jaish-e-Mohammed had reportedly told the Jammu and Kashmir police that they were taking directions from across the border through WhatsApp calls. Seven army men were killed in the Nagrota attack.
In June 2016, the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea seeking a ban on WhatsApp and other communication applications on security grounds. End-to-end encryption is used in all WhatsApp conversations and can be opted into in Messenger. End-to-end encrypted messages are secured with a lock and only the sender and recipient have the special key needed to unlock and read them.