New Delhi – The restrictions on the internet in Jammu and Kashmir has been imposed to check aggressive anti-India social media posts being pushed from Pakistan to instigate the youth in the valley, Union Minister G Kishan Reddy said in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The restrictions on the internet was imposed on August 5 when the central government had announced the abrogation of the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under the Article 370 and its bifurcation into two Union Territories.
“In view of the aggressive anti-India social media posts being pushed from across the border aiming at instigating youth of the valley and glamourising militants and terrorism, certain restrictions on internet have been resorted to,” he said replying a written question.
The minister said due to the decisions taken by the Parliament on August 5-6, certain precautionary measures taken initially have already been substantially relaxed.
“It has been reported by the government of Jammu and Kashmir that all essential services are functioning normally in the Valley,” he said.
Students suffer due to limited internet facility
This year the number of students from Kashmir Valley who participated in different competitive examinations was very less as compared to previous year. The number has gone down due to continuous internet shutdown.
Government has set up internet facility for Kashmir students at TRC Srinagar where thousands of students are seen waiting in queues to fill online forms. Students told Kashmir News Trust that only fortunate ones get the turn while majority of them leave for home without filing the forms online.
“Here students also arrive to seek online admissions for different colleges. Most of the students submit online forms for competitive examinations but no all get time and turn as there are limited computer sets,” said a student Tasleem Ahmed, who was in a long queue at TRC.
These students are demanding that internet facilities should be set up at different colleges so that they don’t suffer any more. “At least authorities should set up internet facility at Kashmir University. It is not only in Srinagar, but students are suffering in every district. They find it hard to submit online forms due to internet shutdown,” they said.
Internet ban: J&K officials clueless
There is no word from any quarter with regard to restoration of internet service in Jammu and Kashmir. Though broad band service is functional in some pockets of Jammu but like Kashmir, the mobile internet service is in suspension mode in Jammu as well and against it, National Panthers Parts has called for a peaceful shutdown in Jammu.
Ever since Government of India annulled the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, all links of communication were suspended. Post paid mobile service was restored after 71 days while internet is still in suspension mode.
Kashmir News Trust contacted some top officials who all candidly said that they have no information when the internet will be restored in Kashmir Valley. One of the officials said that authorities will first restore the mobile internet service in Jammu and then only the restoration of broad band service may be started in phase wise in Kashmir. Another official said that there is least possibility of mobile internet getting restored in Kashmir but chances are there that broad band service may be restored in phase wise as was done in the case of land line services.
Netizens living in Kashmir have no access to internet and thus they are unable to portray the situation that is on ground. What they hear is from some news channels known for partiality. Majority of the newspapers hitting stands in Kashmir carry press releases feed to them by government Information Department. They don’t report and highlight current and actual events.
It’s not only news that people are unable to get in independent form, but the internet lock down has virtually hit every shade of society. Majority of the people engaged in online jobs moved to outside Kashmir to save their bread. Students too suffered a lot as majority of them failed to submit online forms seeking admissions in different colleges.
The government’ decision to erect internet kiosks for students amply makes it clear that authorities are in no mood to restore internet service in Kashmir Valley. There is no clarity yet on when the internet service in Kashmir will be restored. This isn’t the first time this year that the internet services for the citizens of Kashmir have been blocked off but in 2016 agitation, mobile internet services remained out of order for over 130 days.
According to the data by the Software Freedom Law Centre, India (Sflc.in) as part of the latest Internet Shutdowns Report, the latest shutdown of internet services is the 51st just this year in Kashmir. This data also includes the recorded interruption in data services in certain regions of the state. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, according to data collected by Sflc.in suggests that last year, there were 65 internet shutdowns. Before that, the year 2017 recorded 32 shutdowns, 2016 had 10 shutdowns, 2015 recorded 5 shutdowns and the year 2014 also clocked 5 shutdowns of mobile internet services. (With Inputs From PTI)