Kashmir Experiences 150 Days of Internet Blocking in New Year Eve

Indian troops stand guard in Kashmir region (photo: special)

Kashmir, MINA – The new year eve, 1 January 2020 marked 150 days of internet access blocked by the Government of India to the Kashmir region.

According to a group that tracks the global closure of the internet, Access Now, Kashmir is the longest-running internet network in the history of a democratic country.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said the internet blockade had caused the loss of nearly 18,000 rupees crore or $ 2.5 billion in the past five months.

“In our report, which we compiled after 120 days (blocking), businesses suffered heavy losses … internet-based industries such as tourism, exports, the silk carpet industry, e-commerce, and social entrepreneurship were completely closed. The ban is hampered by our daily trade, “said KCCI President Sheikh Ashiq, as quoted by Al Jazeera on Thursday.

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The internet blocking also negatively impacts the activities of students, professionals, journalists, activists and emergency services in the region.

Razia Tariq, a student at the University of Kashmir, said research and work on other academic works were stalled because of the action.

Meanwhile, authorities in India-controlled Kashmir would restore instant messaging services in the disputed region on Wednesday.

Nearly five months, the Indian government has downgraded the region’s semi-autonomy status and imposed tight security and closed communication lines.

Local government spokesman Rohit Kansal said the decision was made after evaluating the situation in the region.

He said fast internet services would also be restored at government hospitals. The closure of fast internet and mobile internet services for other users was still in force.

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The authorities argued the blocking internet was done to prevent provocation protests in the region which could turn into large-scale street demonstrations.

The tensions in Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India but claimed entirely by the two countries, have increased since New Delhi issued a shocking decision in early August that downgraded the region’s semi-autonomy status.

Following the decision, India sent tens of thousands of additional troops, arrested thousands of people, and blocked cellphones and internet services. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)