Businesses, students suffer as govt snaps internet services to ‘maintain law and order’

DIGITAL INDIA – A MYTH IN KASHMIR

SHOPIAN: As different board examinations are nearing, government has once again snapped internet services in south Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Kulgam and Shopian, especially putting students and traders to a disadvantage. In Anantnag and Kulgam, authorities have barred the services since Wednesday while in Shopian, the services were barred on Thursday evening.
Suhail Ahmad Khan, a fruit businessman said, “Since 2016 uprising, the government is thinking that the whole valley is their personal property and they can do whatever they want to do with it. We are facing huge problems since the fruit season is at its peak. We are deprived of internet facilities by this jungle raj.”
As the board and university exams near, students are facing tribulations in internet surfing. “It is like going back to stone age in Kashmir. We are deprived of every basic facility including internet services. The situation is not so tense like they (government) is pretending,” Rasik Hamid Lone, a university student of Anantnag said.
Barring the internet, people claim, hits the livelihood of people that rely on part-time online jobs. “There are a few job opportunities in Kashmir, so we usually look for various online job opportunities. By barring internet services, we are again left jobless by the government,” Mohammad Omar, an unemployed youth from Iqbalabad Anantnag said.
“It is not about last couple of days, blocking internet services have become a routine. The government needs to think about an alternative way rather than snapping internet services in the name of maintaining law and order,” Zuha Bashir Bhat, a self-employed youth from Anantnag said. “Blocking the social media sites, reducing the speed of internet and most of the time completely snapping internet services are dragging us backwards.”
Javid Ahmad Mir, a tutor at a computer institute in Kulgam, said that the suspension of internet services has adversely impacted the education system. “We are not able to enrol new students with our accredited servers, nor we are able to conduct our online examinations. The internet ban has not only put our business at loss but has also ruined the career of the students,” he said.
Students said that government’s claim of making India completely digital through schemes like NDLM, PMGDISHA, and cashless society, is belittled when state government implements daily bans, Irfan Ahmad, an undergraduate student from Shopian, said.
“The design of syllabus for most of the courses has changed but at university and college levels the libraries are not in a position to provide the contemporary information which compels us to get the same from internet. Due to the continuous breakdown of internet services, we are not able to learn those topics and chapters which adversely affect our education and at the end we are not in a position to compete with students of the other regions of India,” Sayar Ahmad Lone, a KAS aspirant said.
Mohammad Shafi Bhat, a businessman from Pulwama said that introduction of high speed internet services had built hopes of extending their businesses through e-commerce, but snapping of internet services pushes the businesses back to 1900s.
When contacted, Deputy Inspector General of Police South Kashmir, S P Pani, said, “I am at home and unaware about the suspension of internet services. Let me check the details and will tell you accordingly.” Later the official did not answer calls. Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, didn’t respond to phone calls either.