SRINAGAR: Terming the state government’s decision as illogical and attack on freedom of speech, the netizens in the valley are upset and anguished over the internet ban that entered fifth day on Sunday.
The government’s decision has frustrated the people especially businessmen, traders, telecom operators, students and journalists. Private Service providers like fuel stations, hotels, restaurants and all other sectors where the mode of transaction is dominated by credit or debit cards over cash, have also been affected by the suspension of data services. Though the broadband services have been working, mobile internet has been snapped across the valley.
The state government had imposed a ban on mobile internet on Wednesday in North Kashmir following the killings of youths who were protesting against the molestation of a girl in Handwara by army personnel. But by Friday evening, the net users in Srinagar and South Kashmir were also unable to access as an effect of the same block.
The step was aimed at thwarting mischievous elements who may post pictures on social media as a mark of protest that may spark violence. “For how long will the government decide whether we can communicate with each other or not? Actually, the authorities do not want us to spread the truth about the army’s atrocities far and wide,” said Javed Var, a resident of Handwara where the recent killings have taken place.
The five day internet blockade by the government has affected online businesses and banking transactions, which are increasingly done on mobile-based applications on smartphones.
“The blockade has taken a huge hit in the online transactions. Here, most of the people are now dependant on smartphones, so it has been difficult to make transactions from the last few days,” said an employee of a private bank in Srinagar.
The lack of mobile internet has affected the sales of many businessmen that operate through mobile internet.
Firdous Ahmad, who runs a small juice unit at Karan Nagar says, “My sales have subsequently gone down by 30 to 40% from the last few days as most of my orders would come via Whatsapp, E-mails and Facebook from here as well as from other districts of the valley. So, very few orders have come because of no internet connectivity.”
Moreover, the ban on internet has also affected the media fraternity to a large extent. For the journalists who work for various organisations, it became very difficult for them to update their respective desks, and newsfeeds and inputs from other districts and states was done by making phone calls to the respective reporters.
While talking to Kashmir Reader, Riyaz Patloo, owner of Kashmir Inn Hotel in Srinagar said that the business of hoteliers has come to a standstill where most of the people tend to make bookings and registrations online and alleged that he had incurred about 20-30% losses in three days. He further said such bans are directly affecting tourism and the people associated with it.
However, according to the police officials, the ban was likely to be revoked on Sunday evening after accessing the situation. But till now, internet services remain suspended despite the situation getting back to normal.