Since the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A on 5th August, there is a total internet shutdown that has created widespread anxiety among the people of J&K.
- The Central government forced a total clampdown of the valley to curb protests after the abrogation of the “special status” enjoyed by the J&K state.
- ‘State’ status has been downgraded into two Union Territories – Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh with overwhelming control by New Delhi.
- Furthermore, a Constitutional deceit situation has been created by allegedly taking away the constitutional and legal rights of the people.
- Several regional Kashmir leaders and other natives are under house arrest including three former Chief Ministers of the State.
- The majority of Kashmir’s population is without mobile internet. All communication lines through social media are still snapped.
Current Situation more prone to Mental Health Disorders
Apart from the ongoing total internet blackout, troops are also monitoring people in Kashmir. Businesses are shut down. Moreover, there are night raids on local residents, alleged arrests, beating and abduction by armed forces mainly in the southern Kashmir villages to prevent any protest that has directly or indirectly affected the people’s mental health.
The youth in the valley see no future in Kashmir as New Delhi continues to bring the territory under its control. Parents are also not sending children to school. The elderly in need of support, rest and care are also suffering. Moreover, the step is attacking their cultural identity. In fact, it is a deliberate attempt to induce mental pain and trauma.
So, many students who were preparing for their school, college, and entrance exams have started feeling dejected. Currently, in the absence of private coaching, a total internet shutdown in Kashmir is further hampering education.
Journalists against “Internet Blockade”
So, the inability to communicate with the outer world has forced local media houses to shut down. However, at the Press Club in Srinagar, a group of journalists from Kashmir held a peaceful protest against the 100 days of internet blockade. The journalists were holding the laptops and placards with a message “100 Days, No Internet”.
Majid Maqbool (a local journalist) said, “This is the worst situation the journalists are facing in Kashmir. It’s very humiliating. It does not even happen in a war-like situation”.
Aakash Hassan (Journalist from Srinagar) said, “We are not asking anything out of turn. It’s our basic right to demand internet”.
However, even after the internet shutdown in Kashmir, the government has established a media centre to help journalist in the valley to file their report, but on the contrary, the journalists are demanding a total restoration of high-speed broadband as it can help the journalist to report the news without any hindrance.
Furthermore, on 12th November, Syed Ali Shah Geelani requested Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to respond against India’s annexation of disputed Kashmir and dissolve Tashkent, Lahore, and Shimla agreements. He also urged to re-designate the de-facto border to ceasefire line.
Furthermore, even after partial removal of the restriction, the shops did not open, and the normalcy across the valley does not return. In short, a civil shutdown continues till now and will remain until their demands are not being heard.
Government’s Plan to provide limited Internet Access
The Hindu’s report says Government has directed top J&K bureaucrats to sign unprecedented undertakings. After this, limited internet facility will resume in government offices. However, the government has prohibited access to social networking platforms, VPNs and also Wi-Fi connections.
Furthermore, as per the direction, no encrypted files can be uploaded, such as videos or photos. Only the registered PCs will have internet facilities but all USB ports shall remain disabled.
However, authorities have resumed limited Internet access to Srinagar’s hospitals and other health departments, Municipal Corporation, forest, and planning department and office of the deputy commissioners at district levels.