How is Digital-Age Generation Coping up with Being Plunged into Dark Ages?

By Auqib Javeed/ Muntazir Yaseen

Internet and communication blackout in an age when the world has recognised it as a fundamental right equates to a denial of our basic rights. In today’s digital age, access to internet is as important as our right to free speech or the right to education. Despite this, every time political turmoil erupts in our valley, blocking the internet is the government’s first step towards handling the crisis. The sad state of affairs is that the government has been given free hand to act as big brother with impunity, leaving Kashmiris with no option of recourse. Not only is banning internet and communication in today’s era a hall mark of a repressive and an oppressive government, it also serves tofurther the sense of alienation among the people. Snapping communication in times of political turmoil increases, not just the anger brewing among the masses but the spread of rumours as well. Thus, it further adds to the confusion and chaos rather than helping contain it. The present government, as has been a norm in Kashmir, has imposed a digital blackout in the valley since past two weeks. With no internet access, suspended phone networks and restricted movement, how are the people of Kashmir spending their time? How is our digital generation coping up with this ban? Team KO asks. Here is what a few people have to say.

Farooq Shah
I haven't seen my kids for a week now. They left for their grandmother's house a week ago and with mobile phones taken off the network, I haven't been able to get in touch with them. I'm restless because their grandmother's house is in Anantnag, the area where from all the violence began. I miss them.
—— Farooq Shah , Govt.Employee
Dr Arshad Misgar
The current turmoil has thrown many challenges at us. While most people will be bored sitting at home or panicking due to the shortage of essential items, as a health care provider, the experience has been entirely different for me. We have had to put our lives at risk daily so that we can reach the hospitals. Even in the hospitals, we are facing enormous challenges. We have to provide proper medical care and ensure that adequate medical supplies are available so that the patients don’t suffer.
—— Dr Arshad Misgar , Doctor
Jahangir Raina
I have not seen my employees since Eid. My project supplies have gone missing. The logistics company is unable to trace the driver in the valley because there is no communication. My business is hurting. Snapping communication is this age of digitalisation is the worst form of oppression.
—— Jahangir Raina , Businessman
Majid Hyderi
In my 12 years of professional career as a journalist, I have never come across such humanitarian crises in Kashmir. While the Government spokesman,Mr.Naeem Akhter is unwilling to talk to media, the response of the administration has been equally callous. A week into curfew, no curfew passes have been issued yet. We journalists often try to move around in flocks lest we get targeted by some bullish troopers, who don’t even spare ambulances. With no phones and no decent net connectivity, we struggle every day to put bits and pieces together, to put the true picture of wounded Kashmir before the people.
—— Majid Hyderi , Senior Journalist
Junaid Rather
It is a one sided war against Kashmiris. The way the government is treating the situation is pathetic. Instead of pacifying the people, they are further provoking them. Until the conflict is resolved, innocent people will continue to be slaughtered every day.
—— Junaid Rather, Journalist
Bilal Ahmad Bhat
India has pushed us back into the dark ages. No country snaps communications in today’s age. Banning our media and internet speaks volumes about the atrocities meted out by the largest democracy of the world towards us.
—— Bilal Ahmad Bhat , Journalist
By cutting off telecommunication and internet, it almost feels as if the Indian state wants to impose a mass disappearance of all Kashmiris. They wish to make us disappear from our public spaces, our streets, our forums, and even online virtual spaces. If we go by the reaction of the state, it feels that they want our voices silenced at all costs. The state wants to terrorise but create a scenario where Kashmiri victims cannot even protest against being terrorised. They want to erase all possibility of accountability. The current situation makes me feel that the three attributes that characterise our state and our government are psychosis, paranoia and phobia.
—— Azhar Mustafa , Teacher
The government is suppressing the voices of the common people. On one hand they promote digital India and on the other hand, they order an internet blackout and snap our mobile phones off the network. This is the hypocrisy of this failed government.
—— Taniya Bhat , College Student
It seems that our government refuses to learn from the past. Instead of approaching the situation in a better and thoughtful way, they still continue to rule with an iron fist. People are angry, they want answers. The least our political leaders can do is show a little bit of sympathy. They are only making the situation worse by snapping communication and banning the internet.
—— Ayman Mohidin , Student
Being a photojournalist in Kashmir, this situation is not new to me. We have witnessed similar incidents in the past as well. The only difference is that this time the brutalities meted out on us are far more severe than in the past. Every day I pick up my camera and try to capture what is happening in Kashmir. If I can do even a little to help make the world aware about the atrocities we face every day, I will die a happy man.
—— Shahyar Khan , Photo Journalist
For a person who never sits idle, being caged at home is very stressful. I drag my feet out of bed every day because I have nothing to look forward to. There is no movement or communication. Getting through each day has become a struggle.
—— Ms Madina, Sales Head, CNS
We are living in a constant fear of being hit by a bullet or a pellet. We are scared to move out of our homes. Our education and our businesses have been effected badly. With no means of communication, we are getting frustrated.
—— Afnan Naqshbandi , Engineering Student
I want to appeal to our leaders to call off their strike calls. All we want is a normal life. We are stuck at home. We can’t work and our business is being affected badly. Strikes are just a wastage of time and yield nothing. We should look for alternate methods of protest.
—— Raima Banday, Student
We have been caged in our homes for more than a week now. We have no information about any of our relatives or friends. We can’t go outside and as we live very near to the road, we are always worried that we might get hurt due to the ongoing clashes.
—— Noor Mohammad Wagay , Labourer
Most of my day is spend praying for the people of Kashmir. It is heart breaking to see young people dying every day. Rest of my day is spent worrying about how to manage the house in absence of various essential commodities. There is no internet since last Friday and now even the phone services have been snapped. I can’t contact any of my relatives. This is sheer injustice.
—— Jawahira Akhtar , Housewife

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