Punjab Police to scrutinize activities on social media for verification for passports

THE Tribune newspaper of Chandigarh said on Monday that the Punjab Police have issued instructions to their staff to check applicants’ social media during verification.
The paper reported that police rationale behind the move is that virtual life on Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms is affecting the real life of persons, especially the youth, some of whom have fallen prey to the “glamour” of gangsters or communal groups and radicals.
“The idea is not to intrude on anyone’s privacy. We have observed in many recent cases that the youth are getting in touch with criminals and even terrorists through social media. The police verification will focus on whether or not one is interacting with gangsters or terrorists or indulging in any unlawful activity,” said Director-General of Police Suresh Arora.
He said a 19-year-old boy was recently arrested on terror charges. “The boy said he got involved with some foreign-based agencies after he ‘liked’ pro-Khalistani posts.”
The Tribune reported that the DGP said some embassies had already made it mandatory for visa applicants to disclose their social media profiles and links. “Like we protect our children and relatives from anti-social persons in real life, we, including parents and police, also need to keep an eye on the activities on social media,” Arora said, adding some corporate houses verified job applications’ social media contacts and activities before hiring them.
Advocate HS Phoolka, AAP MLA, pointed out: “On one side, the Centre is pruning the ‘black list’ of alleged anti-social persons and saying everything is alright in Punjab and, on the other, the police are spreading paranoia about social media activities. I fear this will become a tool in the hands of the police to harass people, especially supporters of Opposition parties.”