CONCERNS about potential hacking threats from its enemies in Pakistan and China has led the Indian government to issue an order prohibiting the use of mobile phones during Cabinet and Cabinet committee meetings.
Local media reported that the decision was to prevent the leak of any secret information from these meetings, such as key policy decisions.
India Today said a circular on the matter was issued recently at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office.
The circular from the Central Secretariat reportedly asked all private secretaries to inform their respective ministers “appropriately” that, “smart-phones/mobile phones henceforth will not be permitted inside meeting venues of Cabinet/Cabinet committees.”
According to the daily, the government is afraid that the devices could be hacked by intelligence agencies in Pakistan or China, especially in the aftermath of the surgical strikes.
“The government has already instructed employees of sensitive departments not to connect their mobile phones to their official computers or laptops even for charging.
“The departments in the South Block- that houses the PMO, Defence Ministry and Ministry of External Affair are no-smartphone zones,” the report added.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have been running high since the Sept 18 attack at an Indian army base in Kashmir, near the highly-militarized Line of Control (LoC) dividing the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
The assault by unidentified rebels, said to be the worst in over a decade, led to the deaths of 19 Indian soldiers, and sparked daily verbal assaults by Indian officials who said Pakistan was behind it.
In retaliation later, India said it carried out surgical strikes across the LoC in Pakistan’s side of Kashmir and claimed it destroyed several terrorist launching pads used by Pakistani militants.
It said its elite troops crossed into Pakistan territory in Kashmir and killed suspected militants who were allegedly planning strikes in major cities in India. The attack allegedly incapacitated more than 30 terrorists and destroyed five terror launch pads in the region.
Pakistan, however, said no such strike occurred.
Last week at a summit of the BRICS nations, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi branded Pakistan a “mothership of terrorism” in yet another bid by his government to isolate its neighbour.
BRICS comprises Brazil, Russia, South Africa and China, a close ally of Pakistan.