SRINAGAR: For netizens craving to find alternatives for instant messaging services in Kashmir, firechat is becoming the most sought after messaging application. In wake of the blockade of 22 social networking sites by the government, including popular messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram, firechat is one of the several alternatives explored by users.
After the ban on social networks was formally announced by the state home department on April 25, several other messaging applications like Signal were tried. Many turned out to be under scrutiny, netizens say.
Many users, though, have found a way to keep their social networks like Facebook and Twitter active through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). However, many were late to the VPN world and find it difficult to download it amid fluctuating internet services. “This is where firechat comes to the rescue. I can use this application even without the internet connectivity,” an IT professional, Waseem Khan, told Kashmir Reader.
He said the users in Kashmir were not privy to the application before the ban was announced despite the massive popularity of firechat globally. “It is one of the most popular messaging applications across the globe but remained almost unknown in the valley until the ban was announced,” he adds.
The advantage is that the application creates a private network with the help of Bluetooth or wifi. “You can send instant messages even if internet is shutdown,” Khan said, explaining why the application was popular among youth.
A valley based journalist told Kashmir Reader that he has been using firechat to stay connected to his network of media friends through the app. “I have told the friends in my fraternity to use firechat as this helps to stay connected for any breaking news,” he said.
Not adhering to the traditional network connected through internet, the application can also be used without internet after creating a peer-to-peer free communication network channel. Firechat uses the radio inside cell phones and enables users to directly send and receive messages without relying on the mobile tower installation for transmission.The ban on social media networks comes after the government made observations that the social media platforms are being “misused by anti-national elements and anti social elements by transmitting inflammatory messages” for vitiating the already volatile security situation in Kashmir.