By Zeeshan Rasool Khan
We live in age of Information Technology, which can also be called as the “Digital Age” .Presently it is hard to imagine life without the internet; people from different walks of life are directly or indirectly dependent on it. From students to teachers, employees to bureaucrats, farmers to businessmen, all rely on it for one or other purposes. A farmer apparently has nothing to do with the internet but he also turns to it for confirmation about weather and climatic conditions and for businessmen, it constitutes backbone of business activity. In addition the significance of E-commerce cannot be underestimated which is considered as a form of commerce that is now gaining more and more popularity among common masses.
However, everything in this universe has two faces: positive and negative. The same is the case with the internet. Besides being advantageous, internet no doubt has negative impact also, especially when misused. Social media , which has brought people very much closer and has attracted people so much that they have become crazy about it .Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. are companions of almost every single person who treat these social sites and thus the internet, an indispensible part of everyday life but misuse of these sites has put question mark on its usage when people spread false news . Once there was rumor about deaths due to Polio vaccine, which left parents almost half dead, later it was found to be a rumor promulgated on social site. Recently, another fake news about bus accident made rounds on Facebook with people conveying condolences but ultimately that turned out to be mischief of some user. Misuse of internet has been witnessed in the past as well in different countries but no establishment has issued orders to ban internet. Meanwhile, United Nations Human Rights Council describes it as collective punishment.
Contrary to this, Kashmir is being repeatedly deprived from internet and surprisingly not for misuse but for its use to express dissent which is democratic right under democracies. The ban was first ordered during 2010 agitation, after that in 2016 and now again after student uprising, when almost every college got transformed into battle grounds and videos showing ruthlessness of armed forced were circulated on social media. As a matter of fact, the only aim behind gagging internet is to conceal the ground reality from rest of world, which is an unproductive attempt as truth like sunshine can dominate clouds of falsity any time.
It is inconvertible thus can’t be converted into falsehood by any sort of tactics. Authorities, however, claim the internet ban would prevent the spreading of rumors and help them to solve problems that Kashmir is going through and that the internet has been blocked only to restore normalcy in state. But think tanks need to ponder. Had this been the solution to the problem, the scenario would have changed after 2010. Similarly, the situation would not have deteriorated further after 2016 uprising, if ban could have changed the situation in Kashmir, when internet services remained suspended for months together. The administration needs to be factual and realistic; banning internet has proven a useless exercise in past and at present as well. Realistically, it has converse effects, besides appeasing it pesters the people, it prevents people to vent out frustration and anger that is then seen in streets . If we analyze the logic of preventing rumor spreading, internet blockade seems to have reverse impact; in truth it intensifies spread of rumors as the person fails to access substantial and valid news. Additionally, internet is not merely using social sites; as mentioned earlier, we have some people in society who wholly are dependent on the internet for their livelihood. The Media fraternity, tour and travel agencies, businessmen and so on are internet dependent to win bread. Unemployed youth who eagerly look for jobs are badly affected. Some students want to access universities of choice but fail because of lack of connectivity. Most of universities announce admission in ongoing season, due to unavailability of internet service aspirants finally are disappointed as they lose opportunities. Though broadband services are sometimes operative but a person from far flung areas having no facilities, has to face difficulties. In other words, gagging internet is futile exercise and doesn’t have any meaningful impact. It can further complicate the complex situation prevailing in state by making rumor mills to run freely, plus by interfering in private occupations and activities of people, it is proving bane by adding to miseries.
—The author is a postgraduate student of zoology. He can be reached at: [email protected]