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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday held a high-level meeting with defence minister Rajnath Singh, home affairs minister Amit Shah and national security advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval on futuristic challenges in the defence sector and equipping the military with modern equipment, ANI quoted unnamed sources as saying.

The meeting came on a day when India warned a UN conference of terrorist groups using low-cost and easily available aerial and sub-surface platforms ie drones and unmanned aerial vehicles for intelligence gathering as well as targeted attacks.

Aspects related to more involvement of youth, start-ups and strategic community were also expected to be discussed at Modi’s meeting with Singh, Shah and Doval, ANI said. No other details were immediately available.

Modi’s meeting and India’s statement to the second UN High Level Conference of the Head of Counter Terrorism Agencies came after India witnessed its first possible drone attack on a military installation – an Indian Air Force (IAF) station -- in Jammu on Sunday and a second such incident in the region again on Monday. Two IAF personnel were injured in the attack on Sunday in which improvised explosive devices were dropped by the drones

At the UN meeting, V.S.K. Kaumudi, special secretary in the Home Ministry called for serious attention to “the possibility of the use of weaponized drones for terrorist purposes against strategic and commercial assets" adding that India had witnessed terrorists using UAVs to smuggle weapons across borders.

The reference was to drones launched from Pakistan dropping caches of weapons in Jammu and Punjab. The comments also come after India witnessed its first possible drone attack on a military installation – an Indian Air Force (IAF) station -- in Jammu on Sunday and a second such incident in the region again on Tuesday. Two IAF personnel were injured in the attack on Sunday in which improvised explosive devices were dropped by the drones.

In his statement, Kaumudi also warned against the “misuse of information and communication technology such as internet and social media for terrorist propaganda, radicalization and recruitment of cadre; misuse of new payment methods and crowdfunding platforms for financing of terrorism." The Internet and social media platforms had turned into indispensable resources in the toolkit of global terrorist groups (GTGs), he said adding that the “increased use of closed group communications adds to the concern."

Evolving technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, “Deep fakes", blockchain and dark-web, he said were “fraught with the risk of being abused by terrorists."

“Already, crypto currencies, virtual assets, crowdfunding platforms are helping terror financing, owing to anonymity and un-traceability nature of these technologies," he pointed out.

The covid-19 pandemic and subsequent isolation had “accentuated the impact of internet on people making them vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment by terrorist groups," he said.

“Spreading terrorist propaganda through use of ‘indulging video games’ is another strategy that was deployed by terrorist groups during the pandemic," Kaumudi said.

“It is imperative for countries to adopt a multipronged approach to tackle the global threats emanating out of misuse of new technologies particularly aiming towards terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism," he said.

The “transborder nature" of the threat called for “collective and unified action" by the international community, without exceptions, ensuring that countries providing safe havens to terrorists be called out and held accountable, he added.

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