” someone pretending to represent the government has tried to seek information from a large number of people which makes it all the more suspicious …” said SS Cyber Cell Tahir AshrafBy Suhail S
Srinagar, 18 Apr 2020
Cyber Cell of the Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday lodged an FIR and approached Google India for investigating a ‘fake online application form’ which recently asked personal details from stranded Kashmiris in various parts of the country.
Officials of the Cyber Cell told GK that it was in contact with Google India to find out the culprits responsible for circulation of the fake form which had caused confusion among people already worried due to Covid-19. “It is obvious we have taken it up with the concerned (Google India) as part of the investigations,” a senior Police official said.
On Wednesday, an online Google form seeking details of stranded Kashmiris outside the Valley and promising them to be evacuated to Kashmir became viral on social media. The form which claimed to be issued by a government representative brought cheer to thousands of people stuck in various cities. However, their joy did not last long as the form proved to be a fake one.
The recently formed fact check team of Department of Information and Public Relations through its official Twitter handle on Thursday said the Google form was not issued by any government department but was a fake one.
Confirming this, Tahir Ashraf, Senior Superintendent of Cyber Cell told GK that investigation in the online circulation of the fake form on such a large scale was underway. “It is a matter of concern that an unknown person impersonating as a government representative asked for details from such a vast population. The incident came to our knowledge yesterday and we immediately launched an investigation into it,” Ashraf said.
Ashraf said it was a serious issue that Google forms, an online service used for educational and research purpose was in this case misused to create confusion among Kashmiris living outside the Valley. “Google forms usually are a very good source of information gathering for genuine causes. But in this case of fake online form, someone pretending to represent the government has tried to seek information from a large number of people which makes it all the more suspicious,” Ashraf said. “We are investigating the matter and will take legal action against whosoever is responsible for it,” he said. The officer urged Kashmiris outside the Valley not to believe such fake circulated forms. “We have round-the-clock control rooms/helplines at the Police and Civil Administration levels, who are constantly helping people. If students, traders or employees who are outside the Valley come across any such online tool asking them for details, they must immediately contact these helpline numbers,” he said.
When contacted, a representative of Google India said they will need more time to respond to the queries about the fake Google forms. He said since their entire team was working from home due to the lockdown owing to Covid-19, “coordinating with each other and responding to such queries will take some time,” he said.