SRINAGAR – Internet services across all platforms continued to remain suspended in Kashmir since August 5 even as there was considerable improvement in the situation, officials said on Saturday.
Internet services continued to remain barred in the entire valley except for few government offices and business establishments, the officials said.
They said there is no word from the authorities on the restoration of the services so far, even as demands, especially from journalist community, have grown for the resumption of the services.
The media-persons have been demanding the restoration of at least BSNL’s Broadband services to discharge their professional duties.
The authorities snapped all communication lines landline telephone and mobile phone services and internet across all platforms — on August 5, hours before the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and to bifurcate the erstwhile state into two Union territories.
Most of the top-level and second-rung separatist politicians have been taken into preventive custody while mainstream leaders including two former chief ministers — Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — have been either detained or placed under house arrest.
While landline telephones were gradually restored first, post-paid mobile services were resumed later. However, pre-paid mobile and internet services are yet to be resumed.
The officials said there are apprehensions that vested interests might misuse the internet services to create law and order situation in the valley and a decision to restore the facilities would be taken at an appropriate time after assessing the situation.
Meanwhile, shops and business establishments remained open till noon in most parts of Kashmir valley and in some areas in the civil lines till late afternoon, on Saturday, the officials said.
They said most modes of public transport were plying in the valley.
While there was a semblance of normalcy in the Kashmir valley over the past few weeks after over three months of protest shutdown over the abrogation of Article 370, the fresh shutdown started on Wednesday last week as threatening posters warning shopkeepers and public transport operators appeared at some places in the city here and elsewhere.
Internet remained shut for 133 days in 2016
Kashmir has become the first region in India that has witnessed the longest internet shutdown and it will go down in a bad taste in the annals of history. During 2016 agitation that erupted after the killing of Hizb militant Burhan Wani, internet though remained shut for consecutive 133 days, but that year, government allowed netizens to avail broadband services. Broadband services were shut only for a couple of days in 2016 but this time after the abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir, government of India in an unprecedented communication clampdown suspended both mobile internet and broad band services and this suspension continues.
A businessman told Kashmir News Trust that Kashmir is probably the only place not only in India but across globe where besides internet, post paid mobile services remained shut for 70 days that too at a stretch.
It has been 118 days now and people in Kashmir are still unable to use internet service. Internet services continued to remain barred in the entire Valley except for few government offices and business establishments.
Advocate Mehraj Ahmed says that internet is a basic fundamental right that can be suspended during emergency only. “Besides Kashmir, Darjeeling in West Bengal is the only region where internet was suspended for 100 days during Gorkha Land Movement. But Kashmir has entered into record books not only once but twice so for. Twice in Kashmir, internet was suspended more than 100 days and rest you know, there is internet suspension in areas where any encounter breaks out,” he said.
Various countries, human rights organizations are expressing concern over the communication clampdown but even after the expiry of 118 days, there is no word from the the authorities on the restoration of the services so far, even as demands, especially from journalist community, have grown for the resumption of the services.
A employee Gulzar Ahmed from IT Sector said that it is new normal in Kashmir. “You can’t imagine life without internet outside Kashmir. Any metropolis will come to its knees if internet will be blocked even for a couple of hours. I really feel sorry for people of Kashmir and being a Kashmiri myself, I think I deserve a better deal, but as they say, ‘law and order’ is such a subject that doesn’t leave any room for discussion,” he said. ( With Inputs From,PTI, KNT )