SRINAGAR: Internet was suspended 59 times in Jammu and Kashmir in 2017, the most, by far, in any state of India. In the internet blacklist, JK is 42 notches above the next state, Rajasthan, which saw internet shut down 17 times, then Haryana with 11 shutdowns in the year, followed by 10 in Gujarat.
The portal internetshutdowns.in, which tracks internet curbs, said of last year’s data: “Instances of internet shutdowns in India are increasing at a worrisome pace. As the internet is a key enabler of many fundamental rights, including freedom of speech and expression, such frequent disruptions have been a cause for concern.”
“They threaten the democratic working of nations,” the portal commented, “and also point to the gradual normalisation of the mindset that permits such blanket restriction on Internet access.”
The website said that of the 19 states it tracked, internet was suspended once in seven states, and twice, thrice or four times in others.
According to the website, of the 73 internet shutdowns it recorded since 2012 in Jammu and Kashmir, of which 59 were enforced in 2017, 27 lasted for less than a day, 17 lasted between 1 and 3 days, and 16 lasted for more than 3 days.
“Of the 73 shutdowns recorded since 2012, 37 were preventive in nature, i.e. imposed in anticipation of a law and order problem, while 36 instances were reactive in nature, i.e. imposed in response to an ongoing law and order problem,” reads the website.
Last year, the International Federation of Journalists said in its report, “Kashmir’s Media in Peril: A Situation Report”, that internet is “routinely shut or slowed down on Fridays”. It said these shutdowns and censorship have restricted the information flow and the rights of journalists to report.
In April last year, the government shut dozens of social media websites in Kashmir for nearly a month, to restrict exchange of information.