Latest internet shutdown leaves south Kashmir guessing

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People in south Kashmir woke up to another mobile internet shutdown on Friday even as the high-speed internet remains suspended in Kashmir for more than 550 days since August 2019.

However, unlike other instances when the authorities snapped the internet during and aftermath of a gunfight, the residents in south Kashmir, a militancy-hotbed, woke up clueless. 

Heena Shafi, a 26-year-old resident of Anantnag district, said that this shutdown makes no difference to her as she “has gotten used to it”. “It is so common now. We definitely see our internet getting snapped once every week,” she said. Shafi added that this time it is different in only one way that they don’t know the reason. 

“Every time our internet is snapped,” she said, “I call my friends asking them about the update but today, no one was able to answer.”

A 32-year-old resident of Shopian district, Zubair Ahmad, said that he woke up on Friday morning to the internet shutdown, again. “Everyone here is speculating what might be the reason but no one actually knows,” he said, adding that it could be due to the Solidarity Day.

Quoting an unnamed police officer, India Today reported: “Pakistan is spreading propaganda by observing ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ on February 5. To stop this propaganda, the government blocked the internet in South [Kashmir].”

On 5 February, Pakistan observes “Kashmir Solidarity Day”, also a national holiday for the country. 

In August 2019, New Delhi clamped down on Kashmir, imposed a communication blackout as it revoked the region’s decades-old limited-autonomy. Then Kashmir recorded the world’s longest internet shutdown in any democratic country, ever. Even though along with gradual relaxation of the restrictions, the high-speed internet remains out of bounds in Jammu and Kashmir, except for two districts of Udhampur and Ganderbal.

Since 2012, there have been more than 250 incidents when the government snapped internet services in regions of J-K — the longest was a ban of 213 days after the August 2019 clampdown.

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