Telecommunication clampdown returns to haunt again
Mobile internet services were once again snapped in the entire valley, after Sabzar Ahmad, Hizbul Mujahideen Commander, along with his close aid was killed in an encounter in Saimu village in Tral on Saturday.
In order to keep a tab on the situation, authorities decided to snap internet services so that the already sensitive air prevailing in the valley is prevented from further deterioration. In addition, authorities, later in the evening also decided to bar the outgoing calling services on prepaid mobiles, giving a tough time to the users. It was in July 2016, when Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the then commander of Hizbul Mujahideen was killed in an encounter that the state government imposed a record six month long ban on the internet services.
Apart from imposing ban on internet services in the year 2016, the authorities had also barred incoming and outgoing calling services; however, the ban on incoming calls was lifted after some time, and the internet services were resumed in November.
In April, this year, the Home Department had issued an order, banning almost 22 social networking sites in valley; however, the ban was just on papers as people were accessing all the banned sites via Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Home Department had said in the ban order that social networking sites allow the transmission of such a content that creates a law and order situation.
The order regarding the ban on selected sites issued on 26th April, 2017 stated that “the step was taken to make sure that no ‘objectionable,’ ‘inflammatory,’ and ‘unverified’ content, is being transmitted on social networking sites.”
However, a Law expert, Danish Fayaz has got something else to say, “From the day the ban order was issued, and people were using social media, but there was not any situation during that period that created a grave law and order situation in the state.”
On Friday, the ban that was on papers was lifted without issuing any order and which went unnoticed.
Prior to this, the government had snapped 3G internet services in April this year when two Parliamentary Constituencies, Srinagar and Anantnag were scheduled to undergo polling. While talking to Kashmir Vision, a group of locals, while criticizing the government decision of barring internet services and outgoing services on prepaid mobiles said that “by doing this, the administration is adding to the miseries of common people. It is a sort of collective punishment.”
As per the data available on internetshutdowns.in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is high on the internet shutdowns all over India. Since 2012 the internet services in the Valley were suspended ‘31 times’, and the highest ‘10 times’ were experienced only in 2016.