New Delhi: The Indian Army has asked its personnel to stay away from spiritual ‘gurus’ or ‘babas’ on social media as they could be Pakistani intelligence operatives in disguise.
Sources in the Army Thursday said this is a new way to trap security personnel.
Of late, Pakistani intelligence operatives are disguising as spiritual ‘babas’ on social media to get information from Army personnel regarding movement and deployment of troops in sensitive areas, and other details of top officers, an officer in the Army said.
The Army has identified around 150 fake social media profiles, which have been attempting to seek information from Army personnel.
This comes amid the report of two Army soldiers arrested by Rajasthan Police Tuesday after they were allegedly caught sharing crucial information with a Pakistan-based woman ISI agent. The two soldiers, Lance Nayak Ravi Verma and Vichitra Bohra, were arrested in a joint action by CBI and IB teams.
New modus operandi
The Army officer mentioned above said that Pakistani agents impersonating spiritual ‘babas’ usually target “vulnerable” people by sending them WhatsApp messages or YouTube links of religious sermons.
Spiritual gurus have huge following in India and many of them upload their sermons on YouTube, which get millions of views.
According to an Army dossier, these fake religious leaders first try to win the trust of the targeted personnel and their family members, and then elicit sensitive information about the Army.
The targets include ex-servicemen, adjutants and other senior Army officials, who may be aware of information related to ordnance factories, besides movement of troops in sensitive areas.
Not just spiritual ‘babas’, even those acting as insurance agents, military nursing staff, intelligence agents or even as armed forces personnel could be ‘traps’ on social media, said the Army officer.
There have been recent cases where Twitter handles impersonating Army officers have been used for propaganda.
In July, the Army had started a month-long cybersecurity exercise to identify and crack down on those violating its norms for all online activities. A communication was sent out by the Army headquarters to all its units and formations, stating that those found violating the norms would face “exemplary” punishment.
A set of dos and don’ts, in line with the Army’s cybersecurity policy, was also attached with the communication. It included asking the troops to limit their online presence, such as on Facebook and large WhatsApp groups, and not forwarding or storing sensitive data on their electronic devices.
The Army had time and again also advised its personnel not to entertain friend requests, chats and calls from unknown people.