It is now five days since J&K has formally become a union territory. Girish Chander Murmu has taken over as J&K’s first ever Lieutenant Governor. The historic change came into effect at a time when Darbar is being moved to Jammu. However, the UT status hasn’t so far turned out to be the new dawn that it was billed to be one by the former J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik. People were expecting that with J&K becoming a UT, the government will announce a slew of measures to ease up the continuing security restrictions. More importantly, the people expected the new government to lift the ban on net access, if not on mobile internet then at least on broadband. But this hasn’t happened. That too despite the fact that an uneasy calm has prevailed in Kashmir over the past three months. By Government’s own admission there have been around 300 counts of protests in Kashmir and most of them took place over the first month following the revocation of Article 370. But over the past two months, the peace has largely held, even though people have been strictly observing the shutdown in the day and the public transport has been largely off the roads.
So, there is no rationale for the government to continue with the ban on internet. More so, when the ban is wreaking havoc with the businesses in the state. Efforts by the business community to persuade the government to at least restore the internet to commercial enterprises haven’t met with success. And with every passing day of this communications blockade, it may already be getting too late for them to get back to business.
So, a rethink on the continuation of information blockade is immediately needed. The truth is situation in the Valley hasn’t erupted in a sweeping groundswell as was expected in the wake of scrapping of Article 370. The people have largely exercised restraint. This should have normally given the government confidence to relax curbs on internet. But this hasn’t happened. And there are no signs that this may happen in near future. This has left people clueless about the future. Lack of internet is bad for the economy. The Valley’s fledgling Information Technology Industry is as good as dead. So many people associated with the industry have been laid off. So have been the people in other sectors. It is thus important that the government moves fast to restore the internet to at least get the aspects of the economy dependent on the service going again.