Kashmir Goes Offline for 5 Hours

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Jammed Networks, Restrictions Irk People

Srinagar – After anticipating protests and demonstrations to flare up over a US-made derogatory film and insulting French caricatures of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), the cellular services and internet facility that went offline for 5 hours have been restored in Kashmir, where curfew-like restrictions previaled.

In an unprecedented move signifying its deep unease, the government had announced a general holiday for schools and colleges on Friday fearing mass protests and demonstrations.

The authorities feared protest demonstrations could turn violent and disrupt peace in the Himalayan region, where a 23-year-old armed rebellion is subsiding.
Cellular networks were jammed early Friday afternoon.

“Trying to call home (kashmir) from several hours. But all the numbers are ‘out of reach’ . Thanks to the Pathetic government for blocking calls to and from Kashmir,” reads an update a Kashmiri, Showkat Nabi, who works with an international organisation.

“This is ridiculous, as if ‘banned sms services’ from so many years was not enough to create inconvenience to people,” he further writes.

Private internet service providers had suspended service on Thursday midnight after the state’s home department asked them to ensure that the blasphemous film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ was inaccessible to people.
However, the state-owned BSNL barred its internet service today.

Posting a series of paintings and posters on her facebook wall, journalism scholar, Beenish Ali Bhat writes, “With all the means of communication blocked, I painted my heart out today.”

According to sources the security agencies had directed cellular service providers to bar all networks following some intelligence reports of “violent protest demonstrations”.

“In this strange world of freedom of speech , Kashmir is pretty much an odd place. We are supposed to respect other peoples freedom of speech, when our freedom of speech doesnt even exist,” a local scribe, Bisma Malik writes.

Protests against the US-made film, which shows the Prophet of Islam in poor light, are refusing to die down across the Muslim world.

In Kashmir region, a curfew like situation exists across all major towns of valley, including capital Srinagar as authorities want to take no chances with the law and order situation.

Pertintly, the Jammu and Kashmir government suspended downloading or uploading of content from all internet portals with regard to video, message, comments and excerpts of the blasphemous video titled ‘Innocence of Muslims’ or by any other name.

The worried authorities had made additional police and paramilitary deployments around sites of major Friday congregations and trouble-prone areas in a bid to keep the situation under control.

It may be recalled, the chairman of the Hurriyat (G), Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the grand mufti of Kashmir, Mufti Basheeruddin Ahmad, had called for peaceful demonstrations after Friday prayers to denounce the spate of attacks on the person of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

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