Cyber Crime In India : Cyber Stalking – Online Harassment.


Is Cyberstalking , cyber harassment prevalent in India?

What is Cyber stalking, Who is a cyber stalker, Who is the victim & what motivates a cyber stalker.  Is there a  solution?

What is Cyber stalking?

Cyber stalking is when a person is followed and pursued online. Their privacy is invaded, their every move watched. It is a form of harassment, and can disrupt the life of the victim and leave them feeling very afraid and threatened

Stalking or  being ‘followed’ are problems that many people, especially women, are familiar with. Sometimes these problems (harassment & stalking) can occur over the Internet. This is known as cyber stalking. The internet mirrors the real world. That means it also reflects real life & real people with real problems. Although it is rare, Cyber stalking does occur. Cyber Stalking usually occurs with women, who are stalked by men, or children who are stalked by adult predators or paedophiles. A cyber stalker does not have to leave  his home to find, or harass his targets, and has no fear of physical violence since he believes he cannot be physically touched in cyberspace. He  maybe may be on the other side of the earth or a neighbour  or even a relative! And a stalker could be of either sex.

Typically, the cyber stalker’s victim is new on the web, and inexperienced with the rules of netiquette & internet safety. Their main targets are the mostly females, children, emotionally weak or unstable, etc. It is believed that Over 75% of the victims are female, but sometimes men are also stalked. The figures are more on assumed basis and the actual figures can really never be known since most crimes of such natures go unreported.

What does a cyber stalker look like?

Cyber stalkers can be categorized into 3 types. (Sometimes these  categories may overlap ).

1)The common obsessional cyber stalker

The common obsessional stalker refuses to believe that their relationship is over. Do not be misled by believing this stalker is harmlessly in love.

2)The delusional cyber stalker

The next type is the delusional stalker. They may be suffering from some mental illness like schizophrenia etc & have a false belief that keeps them tied to their victims. They assume that the victim loves them even though they have never met. A delusional stalker is usually a loner & most often chooses victims who are married woman, a celebrity or doctors, teachers, etc.. Those in the noble & helping professions like doctors, teachers etc  are at often at risk for attracting a delusional stalker. Delusional stalkers are very difficult to shake off.

3)The  vengeful cyber stalker.

These cyber stalkers are angry at their victim due to some minor reason- either real or imagined. Typical examples are disgruntled employees. These stalkers may be stalking to get even & take revenge and believe that “they” have been victimized. Ex-spouses can turn into this type of stalker.

Two  different kinds of cyber stalking situations which can occur.

1. Online  harassment & cyber stalking that occurs & continues on the internet.

2. Online harassment and stalking that begins to be carried on offline too. This is when a stalker may attempt to trace a telephone number or a street address. Always be careful what details you give out over the web and to whom.

What motivates a cyber stalker ?

1)Sexual Harassment

This should not surprise anyone, especially women, since sexual harassment is also a very common experience offline. The internet reflects real life & consists of real people. It’s not a separate, regulated or sanctified world. The very nature of anonymous communications also makes it easier to be a stalker on the internet than a stalker offline

2)Obsession for love

This could begin from an online romance, where one person halts the romance and the rejected lover cannot accept the end of the relationship. It could also be an online romance that moves to real life, only to break-up once the persons really meet. Then one person again cannot accept the NO. Sometimes, this obsession stalking can even start from real life and then move over to cyberspace. One of the problems with obsession stalking is that since it often starts as real romance, much personal information is shared between persons involved. This makes it easy for the cyber stalker to harass their victim. Some users online enjoy “breaking hearts” as a pastime, and so may well set up obsessions for their own enjoyment – games that they may later regret having played. Sometimes, an obsession can also be a fixation by a stranger on another user  for no valid reason. Since these obsession stalkers live in a dream world, it is not always necessary for the target to have done anything to attract her (or his) attention in the first place. Obsession stalkers are usually jealous and possessive people.Death threats via email or through live chat messages are a manifestation of obsession stalking.

3)Revenge & Hate.

This could be an argument that has gone out of hand, leading eventually to a hate & revenge relationship.  Revenge vendettas are often the result of something you may have said or done online which may have offended someone. Vendettas often begin with arguments where you may have been rude to another user. Sometimes, hate cyber stalking is for no reason at all (out of the blue)- you will not know why you have been targeted nor what you have done, and you may not even know who it is who is doing this to you & even the cyber stalker does not know you. In fact you have NOT been individually targeted at all – you have been chosen as a random target by someone who does not know you !! This stalker may be using the net to let out his frustrations online.

4)Ego & Power Trips

These are harassers or stalkers online showing off their skills to themselves and their friends. They do not have any grudge against you – they are rather using you to ‘show-off’  their power to their friends or doing it just for fun and you have been unlucky enough to have been chosen.

Most people who receive threats online imagine their harasser to be large and powerful. But in fact the threat may come from a child who does not really have any means of carrying out the physical threats made.

It is estimated that there are about 2,00,000 real-life stalkers in America today. Roughly one in 1,250 persons is a stalker – and that is a large ratio. Of course, no one knows the truth, since the Internet is such a vast medium, but these figures are as close as it gets to giving statistics. Out of the estimated 79 million population worldwide on the internet at any given time, we could find 63,000 internet stalkers travelling the information superhighway, stalking approximately 4,74,000 victims.

But is Cyberstalking prevalent is it in India??

The answer is YES.

In India’s first case of cyberstalking, Manish Kathuria was recently arrested by the New Delhi Police.  He was stalking an Indian lady, Ms Ritu Kohli by illegally chatting on the Web site MIRC using her name. He used obscene and obnoxious language, and distributed her residence telephone number, inviting people to chat with her on the phone. As a result of which, Ritu kept getting obscene calls from everywhere, and people promptly talked dirty with her. In a state of shock, she called the Delhi police and reported the matter. For once, the police department did not waste time swinging into action, traced the culprit and slamed a case  under Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code for outraging the modesty of Ritu Kohli.

Click here to for some more cyber crime cases registered in India.

So, how would you protect yourself?

A cyber stalker looks for weaknesses in people. He or she is  cunning & crafty.  People looking for sympathy or wanting to make friends, find romance online etc are an open invitation to many types of stalkers.

NO ONE has a right to harass, threaten and disturb you. Once harassment becomes a  threat against you, then the harasser has also broken the law and there are a number of steps you CAN take to deal with it including taking help of the Police department. Trying to work out what you have “done” to deserve this will get you nowhere – the attack or harassment will often appear as motiveless and you may have difficulty understanding the psychology of the harasser. With some kinds of online harassment it is better not to waste time trying to work out “why” and to concentrate rather on what you can do to protect yourself & how to end this nightmare.

Kids & Teens: You must tell your parents immediately! If you feel threatened by someone that you know your parents wouldn’t want you talking to in the first place, you MUST overcome your fears of “getting in trouble” for admitting you were talking to them, and tell your Parents that you’re in trouble

Adults: Tell your spouse and family, and be prepared for an uphill battle, as many states do not have cyber stalking laws in effect yet.

Don’t ever reply to provocative e-mails if you get them.  Don’t respond to flaming or get provoked online.

If anyone is harassing you or you kids by stalking them online  & has begun to disturb you or put your life at risks,  you must file a written complaint to the Commissioner of Police in your city. The Mumbai police recently (Novenber 2000) helped rescue a 16 year old boy who was kidnapped by a lady paedophile. She befriended him through a chat room.

You could also report harassment mails to your ISP (like VSNL etc) & your e mail provider (like hotmail, yahoo etc) &  take advice from your technical savvy friends. If you remember, even the creator of the ‘I love you’ virus was tracked down. So through the  I.P address a stalker does leave behind a trail & though difficult it may be possible to trace the stalker.

So remember, If you are being stalked, you don’t have to be a victim. And yes, If possible stay away from chat rooms & don’t flirt around there. This is just like real life. If you think you have the right to flirt with strangers be prepared for the consequences. The Golden rule our parents taught us “Never talk to strangers” stays a golden rule in today’s Cyber world !! And the The BEST way to avoid getting stalked  is to ALWAYS maintain a high level of safety awareness.


Womens Crime Protection Guide WOMEN’S ISSUES IN INDIA

Click here to know about cyberstalking, harrasment, dealing with Child pornography  (Good Links)


INDIANCHILD.COM is honored to assist Nasscom in their noble mission with Mumbai Police’s Cyber lab !