SRINAGAR: On Sunday, when Kashmir Valley was observing the first anniversary of Mohammad Afzal Guru’s hanging, authority of the Chief Minister (CM) Omar Abdullah was breached as mobile internet services were snapped without informing him.
The head of the state tweeted his response to this “overreaction” of the state agencies on Monday, calling for an end to the restrictions. Omar had, reportedly, tweeted: “I think the restrictions on the Internet in the valley are an overreaction. Please have them lifted. I don’t think the Internet will provoke trouble…Yes please get GPRS restored immediately & in future the decision to cut Internet services should be discussed with me.”
Despite CM’s ‘orders’, the restrictions on mobile internet were lifted only six hours after his response appeared on micro-blogging site.
The controversy over barring of the internet services is raising a bigger question about the ‘elected’ government’s authority in the state vis-à-vis law and order issues. Is the government really calling shots in the state?
Neither the CM’s office, nor the divisional administration has any idea as to who passed the orders for jamming of the internet services. CM’s political advisor Tanvir Sadiq told Kashmir Reader that the orders are passed by the divisional administration according to the demand of the situation, and that it doesn’t need to consult the CM always.
“See, it is the divisional administration that takes decisions in law and order matters according to the demand of the situation. It doesn’t require to involve the CM every time. The divisional administration may have passed directions for jamming the internet, and it is him who must answer as to why he passed the orders,” Sadiq said on Tuesday.
However, the divisional commissioner Kashmir Shailendra Kumar said that he hadn’t passed any order for jamming of the internet services. Kumar said, “If there is an order from us, please show us a copy of it.”
The Hindu newspaper, which first reported about the controversy, had quoted BSNL’s Chief General Manager RK Kaul saying that the “internet services were frozen under proper requisition from a state security agency”. Kaul did not identify the agency, though.
Chief spokesman of the ruling National Conference Mustafa Kamal calls the breach of CM’s authority an “isolated incident”.
“The CM has passed instructions that administrative officers can impose curfew as and when needed without consulting him, but jamming the internet services is a serious matter. Police has clearly breached the CM’s authority on this occasion,” he told Kashmir Reader.
The government hasn’t however called an enquiry into the matter, but Kamal is hopeful that the issue will be raised in the Assembly.
“There may be an enquiry going on into the matter as to how the directions were passed without informing the CM. The Assembly is going on, and I am sure that someone will raise the issue during the session,” he said.