To counter terrorism & ISIS, Maharashtra ATS to have own website, social media accounts

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Pune, January 24, 2016: In the last few months, several units of Maharashtra police including the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) have blocked 94 websites which were promoting the message of notorious terrorist organisation Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Maharashtra ATS chief Vivek Phansalkar said that there is need to fight the terrorists online as well as offline. “On the ground we are working with Muslim community leaders to stop youths from falling prey to ISIS propaganda. We are getting good support from Muslim community. Now we want to have our own website to counter terrorists’ propaganda online,” Phansalkar said while interacting with journalists at the ATS office in Pune on Sunday.

ATS has been formed to counter the menace of terrorism and has 12 units in Maharashtra. “It aims at collecting, collating information about anti-national elements and neutralising terrorists working in any part of Maharashtra. It works in co-ordination with central and other state agencies,” said ACP Bhanupratap Barge, in-charge of Pune unit of ATS.

Phansalkar further said that all the state and central agencies are making a co-ordinated effort against spread of ISIS in the country.

Earlier on January 16 Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh held a day long interaction with the national intelligence and investigative agencies and law enforcement officers of 12 state governments and the union territory of Delhi to discuss issues relating to DAESH, also known as ISIL or ISIS. Senior officials of the Union Home Ministry also participated.

The 13 States and Union Territory, which attended the interaction included Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra.

The issues that were discussed included inter-alia misuse of social media; sources of impetus that attract persons, specially youth, to DAESH; the growth of DAESH influence in India’s neighbourhood; the best possible law enforcement response; the need for appropriate welfare schemes for minorities; social media strategies to be followed; and capacity building of State police Organizations, specially in the area of Information technology.

In his concluding remarks, the Union Home Minister stated that India’s traditions and family values will triumph over even this evil, and that while the traction that DAESH has got in India is extremely limited, and almost insignificant relative to other countries, yet there is a need to keep up vigil on all fronts, and not let down our guard in any manner. He noted that a large number of and, in fact, most Muslim Organizations in India had come out against both DAESH and other forms of terrorism.