Repressive move

New Delhi is mulling to block mobile internet services in several areas of Kashmir valley. Reportedly, the Ministry of Defence, Government of India, has asked the telecom authorities of the country to take up the matter with the Ministry of Home Affairs so that mobile internet service is blocked in “some sensitive areas in which militant activities are high.” The MoD has said that the move was aimed at making the counterinsurgency operations effective in these areas as, according to the ministry, militants are using the service for communication. Whatever the motive, the move is without any doubt a repressive measure unprecedented anywhere in civilized world. There are many reasons to cast aspersions on the stated grounds of the initiative as prima facie there are many paradoxes in the hypothesis being put forward for the ban. Until now, we have been hearing the so-called counterinsurgency experts and intelligence officials boasting of eliminating many militants as a result of the latter’s use of mobile devices. In their estimation, mobile phones had turned out to be virtual booby traps for the militants. Now, what the theory propounds is the other way round. Why has the militant threat escalated so high all of a sudden necessitating such an extreme step when the army has on countless occasions maintained that the militancy in Kashmir was in its last throbs with just few dozen armed men roaming around in the countryside against more than half a million well-equipped, well-trained and battle-ready armed forces? With SMS services on pre-paid mobile services and news telecast on local cable television already banned in Kashmir since 201o, there have been many speculations about the real motive behind the blocking of mobile internet services. Since the ban will not affect the selective persons in any given area but an entire population, people are justified to believe that it is a form of collective punishment on the pattern Jewish entity of Israel is using against beleaguered but resilient people on the coastal strip of Gaza. The netizens in Kashmir believe that the move is aimed to contain the powerful online campaigns they have been mounting in the cyberspace to inform the world about the real situation in Kashmir and about the Kashmiri view point which remains stifled in chauvinistic din of India’s mainstream media. Whatever the real motive, the move remains a repressive tactic and the government of India must rescind the proposal.