The otherwise sleepy district of Jharkhand, Jamtara is well alive and still infamous for one of the most contemporary and relevant crimes of the time.

Such strong is the association of Jamtara with phishing scams that even when the authorities are trying hard to shed the old image, its new one is yet to sink in. A public library movement of sorts has developed in the district and the steady flow of students is making sure it is a success.

Jamtara - Sabka Number Ayega
Jamtara - Sabka Number AyegaCollage of photos taken from Twitter and Facebook

What was once the phishing capital of India now has 45 functional public libraries. For the same, even some of the unused government buildings have been renovated and converted into public libraries. The local authorities plan to have functional public libraries in as many as 100 more panchayats by next year. This, at a place, which has the dubious distinction of making police personnel of as many as 22 out of 28 Indian states visit it, in search of cyber criminals.

Cyber crime
Wikimedia Commons/BrackezMassimo

A major reason for taking these infrastructure initiatives has been to divert the youth back to studies and books. It is common knowledge that youngsters from the region, especially drop-outs in the age group of 15-35 years turn to cyber crime for quick and easy money. A staggering majority of online fraud calls received by people across the country have been traced back to the district.

DC of Jamtara Faiz Aq Ahmed Mumtaz told The Hindu that these initiatives were also taken to change the image of Jamtara. "This is where educator and social reformer Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar had once worked," he said and added, "Studies of students preparing for board exams were disrupted during the Covid pandemic. But these community libraries have proved to be a boon. The state government is conducting classes for maths and science at these campuses."

Cyber crimes and statistics

As per several statistics and reports, last year as many as 156 online scammers were arrested in 74 different cases. A significant number of such cases were registered based on intelligence inputs by the agencies.

Jamtara has inspired not just popular Netflix series but also many a studies as to what made the district the phishing capital of the nation. As per the data made available by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 12,317 cyber-crime cases were registered in the country in 2016. This number has steadily increased in the past few years. Unfortunately, as per some of the reports phishing and hacking nearly doubled in the lockdown months.