Internet blockade in Kashmir causing hardships to people

Srinagar: Internet blockade in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 is causing unparalleled hardships to the people.

In the past internet was temporarily suspended in areas of tension due to encounters, protests or possible militant threats, but the current blockade has forced many businessmen to shift their operations outside Kashmir.

A Srinagar-based travel agency moved its offices and staff to Jammu last month to avoid a closure.

“We had no choice,” said the owner. “Our business is entirely dependent on the internet. It has become impossible to operate out of Kashmir.”

Journalists in Kashmir who file their reports from media centre from J&K information department feel frustrated by the internet blackout. Their pleas to the government to lift the blockade have fell on deaf ears.

Last week journalists staged a protest at the Kashmir Press Club against 100 days of internet ban.

“Journalists are operating in extra ordinary circumstances in Kashmir, it is our basic right to have access to internet,” said Aakash Hassan, a Srinagar-based journalist. “We demand restoration of internet for journalists.”

The blockade has disrupted all online activity including the booking of flights and hotel reservations and hundreds of students have not been able to register for admissions outside Kashmir for different courses.

A stock broker and tax consultant in Srinagar has stationed one employee in Delhi for the last two months to run operations. “This incurs a cost, but it was the only option available,” he said.

With no signs of blockade ending soon, demands for the restoration of facility is growing louder by the day.

In Jammu, Panther’s Party took to streets against the blockade. “In today’s times it is unimaginable to think of life without internet, we have been pushed to stone-age,” Harsh Dev Singh President Panthers party told IANS. “We demand restoration of internet across Jammu and Kashmir and will continue to protest against the ban.”

On Wednesday Home Minister Amit Shah stated in Parliament that the issue of opening of internet will be reviewed when the local administration feels the situation is conducive.

“Earlier, the landlines and voice calling on mobile phones was restored, situation is being continuously reviewed, we will consider the opening of internet at the right time,” Director General of Jammu and kashmir Police Dilbagh Singh said.