Union home minister Amit Shah stressed that organized and coordinated cyberattacks have profound implications for national security and on Saturday led the formation of a committee led by the home minister to develop a strategy to counter the threat, officials said.
Shah issued the directive during the Northern Zonal Council meeting in Jaipur, where participants – including chief ministers and lieutenant governors – expressed their concerns about cybercrime and stressed the need to develop an effective strategy to deal with it.
The council includes Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Chandigarh.
The regional councils provide a forum for structured discussion of matters affecting one or more States, or matters between the Center and the States.
The interior minister said the zone councils are an important forum for reaching an amicable settlement of interstate issues and enhancing regional cooperation among states.
Shah said organized and coordinated cyberattacks have a profound impact on national security, the public system and economic activities, and everyone must work together to ensure the security of national cyberspace and overall civil security.
He called for strict action against cybercriminals at various hotspots or through better coordination between central and state security authorities.
“The Northern Zonal Council discussed the growing threat of cybercrime and strategies to prevent it. The Secretary of the Interior called on states and union territories to conduct cyber vigilance awareness campaigns through various media,” an official release said.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot raised the issue of granting national project status to the state’s ambitious East Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP).
Shah advised central and state government agencies to use joint software developed by the union’s Home Office to work together to identify the issues of concern, track down the perpetrators and take strict action against them.
“In this context, it was decided that a committee chaired by the Union Minister of the Interior would work out a strategy with all relevant ministries and state governments to combat the growing threat of cybercrime,” the press release said.
Shah also stressed the need to train police officers, prosecutors, telecom companies and their PoS agents with new technology and advanced skills. He called for the maximum use of IT tools to detect cybercrime and take systematic action to prevent its recurrence.
The sharing of river water between member states was also discussed at the meeting with Punjab and Haryana where the issue of Sutlej Yamuna Link canal was raised. Shah called on the states concerned to act in concert and find a time-bound solution.
There are five zone councils in the country, established in 1957 under Section 15-22 of the States Reorganization Act of 1956.
“All stakeholders should come together to establish a strong cooperation mechanism for development. The regional councils were created for this purpose,” Shah said.
He said more than 75 percent of issues in the council have been resolved by consensus in its three years of experience.
“A very good process has started and we should all continue with it, we are moving towards achieving 100 percent results on national consensus issues,” he said.
A total of 47 issues were discussed at the 30th Council meeting, four of which were identified as important issues at national level.
“Of those 47 issues, 35 issues were resolved. This shows the determination of the government led by Narendra Modi and its commitment to comprehensive development of the country in the spirit of federalism,” the press release said.
“It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphasis that zone council meetings should be regular, result-oriented and successful in finding solutions to the problems at hand,” the press release added.
Other issues discussed at the meeting included improving banking services in rural areas, monitoring cases of rape and sex crimes against women and children, establishing fast track courts for such cases, and implementing the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).
The meeting was attended by the Prime Ministers of Rajasthan (Ashok Gehlot), Haryana (Manohar Lal Khattar) and Himachal Pradesh (Jai Ram Thakur); the governors of Delhi (Vinai Kumar Saxena) and Ladakh (Radha Krishna Mathur); and Administrator of Chandigarh Banwarilal Purohit.
Deputy Prime Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia, Minister of Finance of Punjab Harpal Singh Cheema and senior ministers of member states also attended the meeting.
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