TODAY -

Morphing : An innocent loses her life

Varun Kapoor *



What all can be done in the cyber world that can cause harm to another human – it is frightening to even think about let alone contemplate how fast and furiously it is multiplying.

The ease with which this harm can be inflicted is another cause for alarm. All this pales in comparison to the reach of this easily inflicted and massive harm. The reach is so wide that once caused, that particular targeted individual often never recovers from its aftershocks and effects.

One such harm causing techniques is called Morphing. Simply stated morphing can be defined as – “change smoothly from one image to another by small gradual steps using computer animation techniques”. That means by using some type of computer animation one image can be slowly changed into another overlapping image in a continuous change process.

Thus it basically is a technique of photographic modification. But the cyber criminals have got hold of this technique to defame, discredit and harass unsuspecting victims, who happen to be mostly women and girls. One such case occurred in the city of Indore some time back. A 22 year old engineering graduate Nisha (name changed) went through a harrowing experience due to Morphed photographs and this harassment led to very sad incident.

This young girl was a resident of a small town neighboring Indore. She has one sister and two brothers and had come to the big city of Indore for a job only a few days before. And in those few days she had this unfortunate experience. She herself worked in a security company but she could not secure herself in this big bad world called the virtual world.

Nisha had reported to the cyber cell that someone had made a fake profile of hers in Facebook and had posted morphed and obscene photographs of hers in this fake profile. In such cases of morphing – the criminal elements take normal digital photographs of their intended target and making use of the face from that and superimpose it onto the body of another person’s photograph (the second photograph is generally obscene or pornographic).

Due to their skillful use and modification of photographs it often appears that the morphed image is genuine. Only on closer examination the truth is revealed and the fake is detected. But often that happens too late and the damage is done.

Three days after her complaint to the Cyber Cell – disaster struck. Nisha resigned from her job on Monday and the same day in the afternoon when her roommate returned home she found the door locked from inside.

On calling out when no response came she went to the house owner and made him aware of the situation. They together climbed the stairs from behind and peeped in from a window. They found the poor victim hanging from her dupatta from the ceiling fan.

Nisha could not bear the trauma of her fair name and image being tarnished in such a bizarre and inhuman manner and she unfortunately decided to commit suicide! Indeed this was a very sad end to her young life. It was later found out that the posting of her morphed photographs was bad enough but people even thoughtlessly started commenting on these. That proved too much for this young girl in search for a clean identity in this city and she took the extreme though unnecessary step!

It can be thus concluded that even a crime like morphing when committed on an unsuspecting victim can end in such grief and anguish. Clearly someone with evil intentions made the fake profile of Nisha with morphed and obscene photographs. But what could have been the intention for this heartless act – to irritate the young Nisha, to harass her, to poke fun at her, to defame her and at the most to blackmail her. These impulses are very small and insignificant.

Thus whoever did this heinous act would have done so on a small impulse and that leading to the loss of a young and innocent life – this is unpardonable and an act even more heinous than murder!

The person who did it was caught due to the concept of digital footprints. The perpetrator would be punished not only under the provisions of the Information Technology Act (the act that governs cyber crime in India) but also prosecuted under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code – this deals with Abetment to suicide.

This section entails a rigorous punishment of 10 years. Thus the poor Nisha lost her life but the criminal also has lost his entire future and freedom. This incident brings out in sharp focus the fact that the victim needed to show some restraint before she took the extreme step of committing suicide and the perpetrator needed to show maturity and humanity and not get involved in such downright worthless acts just for fun and kicks. The moral of the story is that – in bygone days very few had power in their hands.

But today each and every individual in this country has power in his/her hand. What is this power – it is the smart phone that all of us carry with pride and aplomb. Thus with power comes responsibility. So all citizens – young & old; men & women; rich & poor; urban & rural – should use their power judiciously and not recklessly. Then and only then can such shocking and callous incidents be avoided.

We all must grow up and become mature in our use of the cyber space – for our betterment and the betterment of society. It should be a tool for progress and happiness not of destruction and misery.


[Views expressed in the column are of the author himself]


* Varun Kapoor wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is IPS – ADG Narcotics & PRTS Indore (MP)
This article was webcasted on November 29, 2018.



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