In media reportage and in everyday conversation, the use of the word lynching typically tends to conflate all kinds of violence. Such a conflation is often accompanied by two other commonly held views – the current government has intentionally created an environment where law and order have no sanctity and is replaced by vigilantism. The other is that somehow digital technology and its irresponsible spread has resulted in uncontrollable violence. It is obvious that these two commonly held views are contrary to each other. The former view assumes a strong Hindutva movement that has immense control and power so as to design and execute seemingly arbitrary acts of violence across the country whereas the latter view absolves politics completely and deposits all the blame on platforms like WhatsApp or even the Internet.
Few days ago one of the Raiot collective members received a Whatsapp message in Hindi. However, since some of the receivers of this message could not read hindi, the thrust of the threat was not instantly delivered, so it turned into a bit of a failure. But then yesterday, it came to our attention that a few other people- journalists, activists, as well as students – received the same whatsapp-forwarded death-threat; each coming from different numbers originating from different states in the country.
What to do in the age of WhatsApp Spyware Attack?
Some things to remember amidst this WhatsApp hack sensation:
The government may not actually have in any records, data on who all have been targeted for illegal surveillance and accessing of their devices. Such unauthorised surveillance – conducted by private contractors – is never directly contracted by police/IB etc. Front organisations, like the one that issued the invitations to European MEPs to visit Kashmir, set up by individual officials via their proxies are the ones that contract the surveillance contractors.