Srinagar, Dec 31: As 2020 begins, a mindboggling stat from Kashmir also spills over to the New Year explaining how tumultuous 2019 has been for the valley.
Wednesday, the first day of the New Year and the new decade, is also the 150th straight day of the internet blockade in Kashmir.
It is the longest internet blockade ever imposed by a democratic country in modern world.
And it was triggered by something even more jolting for Kashmir.
On August 5, the government of India abrogated Article 370 unilaterally withdrew the Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional position under Article 370 and 35-A followed by an unprecedented lockdown on the entire state blocking all means of communication and peoples’ movement.
Even as the channels of communications have been restored to a great degree and curbs have been lifted, internet, which has assumed the primary importance in peoples’ lives following digitalization of every field of life, is yet to be restored.
Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia-Pacific policy director of Access Now, a noted portal that follows digital blockades, said it was “unprecedented” for a democracy to block access to the Internet for such an extended time and for such a large population.
Only Myanmar and China have limited internet access for longer periods during security crackdowns, according to Access Now’s researchers.
Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia-Pacific policy director of Access Now said it was “unprecedented” for a democracy to block access to the Internet for such an extended time and for such a large population.
Kashmir’s internet has been off for so long that people using WhatsApp in the region have had their accounts automatically deleted because of their inaction over the last several months.
The government has defended the move as necessary to disrupt what it calls Pakistani-led militant groups from organizing attacks on security forces.
Meanwhile, the editors’ bodies and journalist associations Tuesday unanimously demanded restoration of internet services to media fraternity in the Valley without any delay