By Nazim Humayoon
The recent multiple internet blockades did not come as a surprise to me and others as well because maybe now we are getting used to such things and have found ways to adapt to such happenings. Those who have witnessed internet bans for over 6 months including ban on calling and text messaging too should definitely not get surprised by such short span bans. In fact, we are adapting and getting adhered to such things now. This has become part and parcel of our ‘’miserable’’ life here in this part of the world. We can use ‘’broadband’’ but internet is blocked here! We can use ‘2G’ and internet is blocked here! Recent banning of 4G and 3G internet services reveals the sheer frustration of the authorities. ‘’4G and 3G blocked!’’ reads a headline, but ‘’2G and Broadband services working’’ Is this some kind of a joke?
Numerous people here associated with tourism industry are badly affected by this illogical ban. On the one side, the government is making much of development and boosting tourism in the state and at the same time, it is subjugating it. The tourism industry , especially travel agents are among the worst sufferers whose woes are huge Not only tourism but several other businesses who unfortunately are trying to stabilize themselves in fragile conditions in Kashmir including some IT firms and BPO’s are also among the sufferers. Media, nowadays whose lifeline is the internet, are also the sufferers of the ban.
The protests against such bans seem have a null effect as government continues to block internet time and again. Haven’t we suffered enough during the recent years? Those who have suffered in the past and are currently suffering are the ones who actually know what this loss accounts to. Lacs and crores of rupees losses to tourism industry and others doesn’t appear to mean anything to the government. Students’ losses which cannot be quantified in monetary terms are also huge; many are missing out on various career opportunities due to this dictatory and illogical ban. Maybe, a few institutions in Kashmir extend the deadlines for filling of applications- be it jobs or educational. But what about outside the state and even the country. Who will explain to them that in this digital era we are being digitally curbed time and again? A friend of mine almost missed the deadline to complete the procedure for admission in a foreign university. He hails from North Kashmir. He was so helpless and frustrated that he had even planned to visit Jammu in order to get his admission formalities completed. Luckily, he was able to convince the university telephonically and somehow managed to complete the necessary requirements.
The government who always boasts of support to youth but, in fact , does not care even 1 % about anyone and only wants to protect its political ego from getting hurt. Out of frustration, unable to do anything, the authorities make a childish move by imposing curbs on internet. Childish, because according to the government it is a precautionary move. Wasn’t the same precautionary measure taken during 2016 unrest? Definitely yes. Even calling was barred. Did it do any good? No! It hits all of us badly. Yes, it hits our economy which is mainly tourism based very hard. Banning internet will not do any good but will deteriorate the situation. If there is so much pressure to put the curbs so as to prevent rumor mongering then why completely shut it.
There is a much simpler way to do so and I am sure it is the best one and logical too. Blocking of social networking sites. If internet is blocked on the pretext of rumor spreading then rumors are spread mostly through social networking and instant messengers. If preventing the spread of rumors is to be done then the best way is to ban or block social networking websites as was also seen during the recent elections in MP which coincided with that of Jammu and Kashmir. Authorities there didn’t block internet rather they confined the blockade to only Social Networking. People whose livelihood is associated with the smooth functioning of internet are suffering most. Government must understand this and should think twice before proceeding on such moves move and prevent many from suffering.
—The author is a student at the Department of Management Studies, University of Kashmir.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org