Apps such as Crypviser, Enigma, Safeswiss, Wickrme, Mediafire, Briar, BChat, Nandbox, Conion, IMO, Element, Second line, Zangi, Threema among others were blocked, as recommended by defence forces, security, investigation and intelligence agencies

In a big step, the central government blocked 14 messenger mobile applications, which were being used by terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir, on the recommendation of defence forces, security, intelligence and investigation agencies. Sources said these apps include Crypviser, Enigma, Safeswiss, Wickrme, Mediafire, Briar, BChat, Nandbox, Conion, IMO, Element, Second line, Zangi, Threema among others.

According to top sources, the step was taken after multiple agencies found that these apps were being used by terrorists in Kashmir to communicate with their supporters and on-ground workers (OGW). The government found that these apps did not have representatives in India and they could not be contacted for seeking information as mandated by Indian laws. Agencies tried contacting the app management on various occasions, but there was no office to contact in India.

Sources further said, according to a report, most of these apps were designed to provide anonymity to the users, and their features made it tough to resolve entities associated with them. The ministry of home affairs through different agencies had found that these mobile apps aided terrorists and their affiliates to engage in activities, they added.

A senior intelligence official told News18 that these apps were found to be spreading terror propaganda and inciting youths in J&K. These apps have been blocked under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the official added.

Similarly, over the past few years, the government has been trying to dent the communication network of terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. The apps that have been blocked have servers in different countries, which make them tough to trace. Also, there is no way to intercept these apps due to heavy encryption.

A senior government official involved in probing terror-related cases said on multiple occasions, security forces and investigation agencies have found these apps downloaded on mobile phones recovered from terrorists killed in operations; or, during an investigation, it was revealed that these apps were used to amplify the agenda of Pakistan-based terror outfits. Also, a number of OGWs arrested had at least one of these apps on their phone.

According to the media reports, members of the Hizbul Mujahideen and The Resistance Front (TRF) – two Islamabad-backed proxy insurgent groups – were using Nandbox Messenger, a Canadian messaging app and app development platform. The reports also said insurgents used the app’s messaging features to claim real-world attacks against security services, amplify propaganda material to supporters, announce new recruitments, and share testimonials of slain members.