CISF issues new social media policy, asks personnel to refrain from criticizing govt

In a contentious decision, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) on Friday issued social media guidelines for its personnel asking them to share their user IDs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc and refrain from criticizing government policies on social media platforms, failing which strict legal and disciplinary action will be taken against the defaulters.

The decision has not gone down well among the subordinates in the 1.40 lakh strong paramilitary force, which guards airports, metro, nuclear and space facilities apart from several sensitive government installations, who feel that the policy is unjust as social media keeps them entertained after long duty hours.

The latest social media policy, issued by CISF headquarters in Delhi, say that, “Inspite of clear guidelines, there have been instances where social media platforms were used by the force personnel to share sensitive information about the nation/organization and to criticize the policies of the government.” HT has reviewed the copy of guidelines.

Asserting that social media platforms pose a threat to the national security and the general discipline of the force, CISF has asked its men to “disclose their user ID of all social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc) being used by them to the department, through respective units/formations”.

The personnel have also been asked to inform the department in case of any change of the User ID or creation of new User ID.

The CISF men have been strictly asked “not to create and use anonymous or pseudonymous User ID”.

Further, the directive says that the “personnel should not use any social media platform to criticize the policies of the government on any matter”.

The jawans have been informed that social media platforms shouldn’t be used as a tool to by-pass the chain of command and proper channel to air the grievances, according to the directive.

“In case of any violation, strict legal and disciplinary action should be initiated against the defaulters as per existing laws and rules,” it added.

The CISF top brass didn’t respond to HT’s calls or text. The PRO was also not available for comments.

HT spoke to several serving officers in the CISF who said that the policy is “arbitrary”. “Better they should give us a basic phone and a 2G connection otherwise smartphone has no use for us if such policies are implemented,” said a company commander in CISF, who didn’t wish to be identified.

Another commandant rank officer said that “we are mostly away from our families for months and social media is the only source to keep us entertained or express our opinions, which should not be taken away”.

The government has lately expressed concerns over central paramilitary forces jawans’ and Group-A officers extensively using the social media platforms and also criticizing government policies or seniors. For example, the direct recruit officers of the paramilitary forces, also called CAPFs (central armed police forces), have been campaigning on Twitter and Facebook for over two years now for parity in promotion and pay benefits at par with IPS officers.

Last month, Indian army banned asked its personnel to delete 89 apps from their smartphones including Facebook, TikTok, Tinder, PUBG and Instagram to plug leakage of information. The decision was taken after the Centre banned around 59 apps, mostly Chinese, including Tik Tok.

Earlier, in January 2017, when a Border Security Force (BSF) Constable Tej Bahadur Yadav posted a video on social media showing sub-standard food provided to the jawans at the border, the government had issued guidelines asking all personnel to not upload any content which may jeoparadise national security or follow the chain of command to address their concerns. Yadav was dismissed from the force.

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