Internet services in Kashmir have been suspended as the Modi-led NDA government moves to revoke Article 370 and has also imposed section 144, which bans an assembly of more than five people in public.
Article 370 contains special provisions for Jammu and Kashmir, which gives it the right to have its constitution. Furthermore, the Center’s power is limited to only three areas, which are defence, foreign affairs and communication. The article also gave the State government the power to give concurrence to the Centre in case the Central Government wants to extend other constitutional powers to the State. Repealing Article 370 revokes the aforementioned special powers to the state of J&K.
Several news reports have mentioned that Article 35(A) has been repealed and now any Indian citizen can buy property in J&K; though this is still uncertain as there is no official word from the government yet.
While this internet shutdown comes at a crucial standpoint when the government is trying to change things, Jammu and Kashmir has had a long history of internet shutdowns over the past several years. According to this Poynter’s report, India saw a total of 134 shutdowns in 2018, 47% of which happened in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to a report by News 18, there have a total of 32 shutdowns in the state between January and May 2019.
Is there a need for deactivating internet services?
Internet shutdowns have become common globally. Governments all over the world shut down the internet in fear of mass protests or for preventing the spread of false information. For example, in 2016, Burhan Wani was killed in Kashmir, and there were mass protests against the government, which were further propelled by social networks that helped share the word like quickfire, including bits and pieces of unverified false information. Thousands of people attended his funeral, and his death led to the emergence of a new militancy in Kashmir.
Fake information can only be countered via the truth!
However, experts all over the world agree that shutting down the internet is a flawed way to counter fake news and rumours. Researchers have noticed that internet shutdown has done little to stop fake news from spreading. It should be noted that misinformation can be confronted only by spreading the truth among the people and not by shutting access to information.
Pakistan, who consider themselves a major stakeholder in the Kashmir dispute — as they occupied a part of the state in 1948 — condemn Indian government’s move to revoke Kashmir’s special status.
We will update this section as new developments are confirmed.