Tuesday, 31 May 2016

WhatsApp Controversy In The Jat Heartland

WhatsApp Controversy In The Jat Heartland

I was amused to read a ‘breaking News’ item in a particular newspaper today, taunting Y.P. Shinghal, who was the Director General of Police, Haryana, till some time back and during whose tenure the ‘Jat Agitation’ had unleashed Haryana some months back. It appears that both the DGP and the Home Secretary had used WhatsApp messaging device to communicate with some, or may be more, of their junior colleagues who were perhaps ‘halfheartedly and dejectedly’ trying to control a ‘burning Haryana’.

Though, for some time now, I myself have been using this messaging device, but for the first time today I Googled this word WhatsApp. There it was defined as ‘a proprietary cross-platform, encrypted, instant messaging device for smart phones, using Internet to send text messages, documents, images, video, user location and audio messages using standard cellular mobile numbers. and this short and precise description did floor me. Being a former intelligence / police officer, i can appreciate the ground level requirements while dealing with a 'situation', more particularly a situation where exact and precise instructions are required by the 'field operatives'.

In older times, this work was done by ‘harkaras’. They delivered written message either running on their feet or used animal like horses and camels etc, depending upon the locale to deliver written sealed message which were hidden in their clothing or bag or whatever. Messages were also sent through pigeons, in the ‘kabootar, udd ja’ style. Then came in the wireless and telephone devices followed by tele-printers and faxes and scanners and the technology has continued to evolve. The purpose of all these ways and means and gadgets is just to ensure communication of cryptic, clear and precise information and / or orders without any ambiguity.

In a law and order situation where modes of communication, unfortunately often break down or where their efficiency and efficacy neither does nor remain trustworthy, use of nontraditional modes of communication to send precise orders is most welcome. In fact I appreciate the ingenuity of these men in question, the then DGP and the Home Secretary. In any law and order situation of this kind, there is always shortage of man power because each and every available individual, sometimes even cooks and class four employees of the police set up are made to don (a wrong practice though because such personnel are not trained and they can create havoc instead of controlling the situation) the uniform, given a ‘lathi’ and deputed on ground. Such situations also see shortage of vehicles and man power to communicate the messages received on T.P. links, FAX and other devices which are normally available in a police establishment. Because of ‘semi literate’ personnel who are normally put on the Morse Key, wireless communication has practically out lived its utility. Police forces in the states do not normally have latest technical gadgets like satellite phones etc. It indeed, is a serious reflection on the so-called ‘Modernization Plan of the Police Services’, which has been going on for decades now at the levels both of the central and state governments. Anyway let’s forget about stigmatizing the governments and confine ourselves to the ground level realities. In the absence of the required high tech equipment which is able to deliver written instructions / orders directly to the concerned men on ground, without any delay; instructions relayed through the word of mouth can often be unclear and can be misconstrued rightly or wrongly, depending upon the ‘convenience’ of parties at either end.

Yes, WhatsApp messaging device is safely encrypted. But it can be saved either by the sender or receiver and may be produced if required. These messages are clear, concise, in black and white and to my mind if the then DGP and the Home Secretary used this way of communication in that crisis situation; I can only admire their ingenuity, vision and clever use of available technology; more so a technology which was accessible to their own fingers.

My regards and hats off to them.  

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