Back To Social Media

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On Wednesday, the administation withdrew the ban on social media, seven months after imposing a blanket communication blockade in the wake of the revocation of Article 370 which granted J&K an autonomous status under India’s constitution.The administation had already restored 2G internet on January 25 and has so far refused to enhance the speed to 4G.  The government begun easing the ban on internet  after the Supreme Court directed it to review all the restrictions in the union territory.  The apex court  said the access to the internet is a fundamental right. Ever since the government has begun a gradual easing of the internet ban.
The removal of the ban on social media has been welcomed in the Valley.It is after a long time that people have been able to communicate freely with their families and friends from far and wide.However, the curbs have only been lifted for postpaid mobile subscribers.
Earlier, government had shown unwillingness to restore social media, saying it would be used to invite violence. But as the widespread use of Virtual Private Networks showed, this ban was circumvented by the people. Using VPNs, people could easily access social media.  Police later clamped down on VPN use,  first by  resorting to physical checks of smartphones. This was followed by filing of an FIR by Jammu and Kashmir Police’s cyber wing. The FIR according to reports in media invoked the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code against unknown persons.  Many VPN users, police argued, were trying to stir trouble in Kashmir and were liable to face action.
However, with ban lifted on social media, there is no need to use the VPNs. Police is nevertheless keeping a check on the use of social media and looking for alleged attempts to cause trouble.
It is to be hoped that the ban is not reimposed. Also, now that the government has come this far, the government should make bold to restore broadband service. Its absence  is inflicting a terrible economic cost on Kashmir and almost wrecking education of the children.  There are hundreds of businesses in Kashmir which run on internet and which have suffered as a result. While the government has recently selectively restored broadband to big business houses and institutions, it hasn’t done so to thousands of individuals who run their business through broadband. For example, those who help students with filling of application forms, travel agents etc. As a result, thousands of people have lost their livelihood and don’t have expertise and resources to switch to businesses not dependent on internet. It is therefore important that the government takes a call on restoration of broadband. Any further delay will only prolong the losses being suffered by economy.

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