Chief Minister Mufti has officially banned internet services in the valley for a month. The order was issued by Home department on Wednesday saying all Internet services shall not be permitted to be transmitted for a period of one month.
The banning has taken place due to the increasing misuse of Facebook, Twitter etc, for posting objectionable content and spreading dissatisfaction among public against the state administration and security forces, and disturbing peace and tranquility in the Kashmir. The govt. claims that the anti-national and inimical elements have largely succeeded in spreading unverified, questionable and inflammatory content through Social Media. Social Media apps such as Whatsapp, Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Skype, Viber, Line, Google+, Baidu, Youtube etc have been banned.
The ban doesn’t come up as a surprise because this isn’t the first time internet services have been banned in Kashmir. In 2008, PDP govt. banned SMS services. Internet mobile services (2G,3G) are already banned in Kashmir since April 17 after mass student protests were reported all across Kashmir. This month the valley has woken up to fresh violence fanned by several video clips which purportedly show human rights abuse by security forces including the use of a Kashmiri man as a human shield. Dozens of pictures of young girls seen pelting stones at CRPF jawans have gone viral on Social Media and they have become the face of protests in Kashmir.
It is true the biggest source of mobilization to the militants is social media and Whatsapp. Will banning social media curb anti-social and militant activities in the valley? Was there no better short term strategy Mufti could come up with? What if the banning leads to something more adverse? Lets hope for the best.