Handwritten letters and posters have traditionally been an intrinsic part of running an underground movement or operation of any sort. The Maoist movement which has been in the news sporadically now and then and more so recently following the Bastar carnage brought to light the use of social media in the endeavour.
While targeting the rural and suburban populace with traditional methods, word of mouth publicity and personal influence might have been simpler, reaching the urban population has been the stumbling block. Not any longer perhaps.
Recently, many print and online publications have reported that the intelligence inputs of the ministry of home affairs led the Chhattisgarh Government to earlier request Facebook authorities to block a Facebook page – Naxal Chhattisgarh. The page had allegedly been used to promote the propaganda of Maoists following the violence in the tribal region of Bastar. This apart it is believed that there are several other online communities that the Maoists are making use of to increase their support base.
Though the ministry of home affairs managed to identify one account it is believed that there are several other accounts and pages through which the Maoists are using for propaganda.
For instance, the Times of India reported that the page ‘Naxalism community’ has a detailed description of the Bastar carnage where 27 Congress workers were killed by the Maoists and 404 people had ‘liked’ the page. ‘Naxalite community’, ‘Naxal’ and ‘Naxalbari Hamiz’ ‘Naxal Bari India’ are some online forums that the Maoists are using to spread awareness about their ideology and activities.
Intelligence reports state that terror groups are increasingly using contemporary communication channels from mobile phones to satellite phones, spoofed IDs and coded transactions over e-mail and chat sessions, even Voice over Internet Protocol are being widely used.
Considering the power and reach of social media, public movements even in the past have been strengthened and their reach has transcended geographical boundaries. While this might be put to some good use it might also be misused which is something to think about. Influencers have a vital role to play in any social media activity and that is the key to spreading a thought, idea or movement per se. The urban populace for whom social media platforms are the place to hang out now even over their cell phones can be reached and influenced with greater ease.