Delhi Police’s Intelligence Integration and Strategic Operations Unit (IFSO), a specialist team of the special cell, has made “significant” arrests and registered cases against several political leaders and activists in the past year, citing the aim of preventing cybercrime, online abuse and societal disharmony.
Monday , The IFSO team has arrested the co-founder of Alt-News, Muhammad Al-Zubair For allegedly hurting religious sentiments in a tweet from 2018.
Al-Zubayr was brought before the investigating judge late at night and sent to police custody for one day.
The IFSO or Cybercrime Unit is headed by DANIPS Staff Officer KPS Malhotra, who has been appointed as the Deputy Police Commissioner. On the arrest, he said: “Delhi Police registered a case after receiving a complaint from one of the Twitter accounts, in which Muhammad Al-Zubair allegedly tweeted a questionable image with the intention of intentionally insulting a particular religion’s deity. Such tweets were retweeted, and it appears that there is a brigade of social media entities social, who indulge in the promotion of insult which has potential repercussions on societal harmony and is generally against the maintenance of public calm.”
The unit has an office in Dwarka. Other electronic cell police stations have also recently started in various parts of Delhi. All sensitive and major issues are referred to the IFSO unit in Dwarka. Previously referred to as CyPAD (Online Prevention Awareness Discovery). In 2021, Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Astana changed the name of the electronic cell from CyPAD to IFSO, giving the unit additional responsibility for “national and economic security”.
Arrests and cases
last year in february, Climate activist Disha Ravi has been arrested by the unit from Bengaluru for allegedly creating a ‘toolkit’ via Twitter by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg regarding the farmers protest in Delhi. Ravi and other activists were booked under the divisions of promoting hostility, sedition, and criminal conspiracy. While Delhi Police charged Ravi with “spreading discontent against India” and promoting violence that led to the Red Fort incident on January 26 last year, the court released Ravi on bail.
In July last year, Delhi Police registered a case against an app created on the US GitHub platform after using images of about 80 Muslim women without their permission. The accused were trying to “sell” the women by auction online, using sexually explicit and vulgar comments. Five months later, another application was created on GitHub where photos of nearly 100 Muslim women were shared with objectionable comments.
Many journalists, activists, political leaders and others have been targeted in this app. Cases have been filed in Mumbai, Noida and other cities against the anonymous creators of the app. In January, Delhi Police IFSO has arrested 21-year-old engineering student Niraj Bishnoi from Assam They accused him of creating an app. Soon after Bishnoi’s arrest, the police also arrested 25-year-old Aumkareshwar Thakur from Indore for allegedly creating the other app.
The police have booked them on charges of promoting hostility, sexual harassment, insulting women’s modesty, etc. Two indictments were filed in the case. In March, the court released on bail saying that “prolonged detention would harm his general welfare and career” and that both defendants were young and would not be in danger of escape.
This year, the IFSO also registered an FIR report against a group of people for allegedly making derogatory statements against Muslim women during a hearing on the Clubhouse app. An audio clip of the session went viral on social media purporting to show speakers making obscene comments against Islam and Muslim women. While Mumbai Police have arrested 3 people from Haryana in connection with the case, Delhi Police have made no arrests.
Recently, the unit registered two Islamic information reports against politicians for allegedly spreading hate and rumors and harming religious sentiments. In an Islamic Information Report, suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma was named due to her alleged comments against the Prophet.
The other FIR appointed AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi, Dasna Temple Priest Devi Yati Narsinganand, journalist Saba Naqvi and Pooja Shakun Pandey, holder of Hindu Mahasabha office. The FIR was against 31 people based on IFSO monitoring of social media.
Led by DCP Malhotra, about six ACP-level officers and other individuals, the team is looking for offensive and incriminating material posted on social media, the officers say. The unit also deals with cases of electronic fraud, online harassment, data theft, cryptocurrency fraud, call center fraud, bank fraud, etc.
The IFSO unit has specialized software and a dedicated cyber forensics laboratory, used to recover data and information from damaged devices. The police also hunt for deleted data. There are professional hackers who work under oath and recover essential information like chats and media in sensitive cases.
As directed by the Commissioner of Police, the IFSO unit has been asked to look into organized crime and cyber activities of “anti-national groups” and the dark web, one of the officers said.