The Hindu – J&K suspends 22 social media sites

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar, 26 April 2017. With students’ protests and unrest showing no signs of letting up for second consecutive week in the Valley, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday decided to suspend 22 social networking websites and applications, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsAap, in Kashmir.

Invoking the Indian Telegraph Act 1885, the government said the ban will remain in force for at least one month.

According to State Home department, headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, the internet service providers in Kashmir Valley have been directed “to stop transmitting any content on 22 social networking sites.”

“Over a period of time, an increasing trend was witnessed regarding the misuse of social media by the elements inimical to public order and tranquillity, thereby impinging on public safety, particularly in the Kashmir Valley,” reads the order issued by the home department.

Disturbed peace

Such elements, according to the Home department, were “transmitting objectionable contents to spread disaffection amongst the public against the State administration and security forces with a view to incite them to commit various offences at a large scale, causing damage to life and property and disturb peace and tranquility.”

It claimed these elements “extensively misused social media sites and instant messaging services for vitiating peace and instigating violence” during the 2016 unrest.

The ban comes at a time when several videos of rights abuse and of local militants were doing the rounds on the social media. Several students protests were also streamed live on the social media.

Ban opposed

The move, however, has come under severe criticism from several political parties and stakeholdersin the tourism sector.

“The ban denies people necessary access to prospective tourists. How will customers contact hotels and tour operators? It will ruin our business,” said Mushtaq Pahalgami, a hotel owner at Pahalgam.

National Conference (NC) president and recently-elected Member of Parliament from Srinagar Dr Farooq Abdullah said the communication blockade “would play havoc with the state’s economy and in turn, render thousands of youth unemployed.”

“The PDP-BJP Government is not only suppressing the people of the State through brute force but also persecuting them economically. The continued blockade of internet will seriously affect businesses and especially youth-oriented start-ups in the e-commerce sector,” said Dr. Abdullah.

Fresh clashes

Students on Wednesday again clashed with security forces in parts of Kashmir Valley. Around 13 students were injured.

Protesting against alleged “high-handedness of security forces against the student community”, fresh clashes led to closure of schools and colleges in Pulwama, Bandipora, Chadoora, Ganderbal and Shopian.

The students were protesting against an alleged police raid on Government Degree College Pulwama on April 15, which left over 50 students injured.

Last week, the authorities suspended the class work for a week after violent protests left over 50 students injured. There were fresh protests on Monday.

The PDP – BJP government takes action, but does not tackle the causes of the unrest
Man in Blue

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/jk-suspends-22-social-media-sites/article18227599.ece

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