Indian Army personnel, barring two-star and above (major-general and above), may no longer be able to use smartphones at workplaces

Indian Army personnel, barring two-star and above-ranked officers (major-general and above), may no longer be able to use smartphones at workplaces, a top Army source said.

There is no clarity yet on the use of older version of cellphones, which do not have camera and other smart features. The main aim of the move is to prevent any kind of misuse of the phones, which may pose threat to national security, the source said.

“Senior officers of the rank of major-generals and above are authorised to possess and use the phones within institutions,” the sources said.

A senior army officer, who did not wish to reveal his identity, said: “The officers are not supposed to carry smartphones during work hours within institutions. They will have to deposit them at security gates.”

Sources clarified that officers might be allowed to carry smartphones at some branches. “These branches mainly deal with certain kind of works where smartphones are required,” the sources said.

“It is being learnt that the new directives for strict adherence to smartphone usage could be issued in the coming days. Misuse of smartphones cannot be ruled out. If any sensitive information regarding future plans or unit formation is leaked, it will result in irreparable damage,” the sources said.

“There is a high risk where users may take photos of sensitive documents or specific formations and share it with an outsider. Therefore, it is essential to keep the phones at bay and avoid any kind of embarrassment in future,” the sources said.

“This restriction will also be followed at command, core, division, brigade and battalion headquarters,” another army source said.

 Welcoming the move, Lt Gen (retd) D B Shekatkar, who is heading the government-appointed committee for enhancement of combat capabilities of the Army, said: “Officers posted at sensitive areas should not be allowed to use smartphones, particularly during working hours. And they (officers ) should take this move in a critical way.”
A section of officers, however, is of the view that it would be a daunting task to keep a tab on 41,000 officers posted in different regions.
Responding recently to the controversy over a video posted by an Army jawan complaining against sahayak system in the force, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had said the social media was a two-sided weapon.

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