The ongoing internet gag in Kashmir is the longest ever witnessed in the region, official data reveals. The internet gag which began on August 5, crossed 840 hours on Sunday. The previous longest was 240 hours blockade witnessed during the 2016 summer unrest, it reveals.
Frequent internet shutdown is nothing new in Kashmir as in the past decade the service was snapped multiple times. However, this time not only mobile internet services were barred, but broadband, lease line, and even V-Sat services too were snapped.
This has been done despite, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sending an advisory to the states, including Jammu and Kashmir, this April that internet shutdowns should be avoided as much as possible.
Not only internet services but mobile connectivity too has been snapped since August 5, when the Parliament scraped J&K’s special status under Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two union territories.
According to the Cellular Operators Association of India, an amalgam of GSM mobile players, the overall telecom industry in Kashmir suffers daily losses of Rs two crore when calling and data services are suspended.
A recent study by International Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), a Delhi-based think-tank, reveals that frequent suspension of internet services has dealt a body blow to Kashmir’s fragile economy resulting in losses worth almost Rs 4000 crores since 2013. The study: “The anatomy of Internet blackout: Measuring the economic impact of Internet shutdowns in India” has also stated that 34 internet shutdowns in 2017 caused losses worth Rs 1776 crore to the Valley’s economy.
Pertinently, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval on Saturday accepted that denial of communication, especially internet, had caused widespread inconvenience and anger in Kashmir. “But, the first priority of the government was to protect Indian citizens’ lives,” he told a selected group of journalists in New Delhi.―Deccan Herald