The Jammu and Kashmir government has reportedly ordered social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, QQ, WeChat, Ozone, Tumblr, Google+, Baidu, Skype, Viber, Line, Snapchat, Pinterest, Telegram, Reddit, Snapfish, YouTube (Upload), Vine, Xanga and Flickr will be suspended from the Kashmir Valley for a month.
Internet is suspended in the valley from time to time to deter violence, which is often coordinated through social media. One such example was just before the Srinagar bypolls earlier this month.
The J&K government's decision on Wednesday (April 26), however, targeted not the entire Internet service but only social media platforms. This could be a way to keep on promoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Digital India campaign and make an active push towards cashless transactions in the state, while barring miscreants from spreading false and incendiary messages or organising illegal protests.
That social media was being used extensively to coordinate stone-pelting came to light recently after the security forces said they had shut down 300 WhatsApp groups that were used specifically to mobilise stone-pelters.
Suspension of Internet services in the Valley has apparently started showing positive results in curbing stone-pelting during encounters. A security official had recently told local reporters on condition of anonymity that only a handful of stone-pelters had gathered in Budgam last week, in the aftermath of two terrorists being gunned down. This was nothing compared to the huge crowds of stone-pelters who had gathered in the same area on March 28, he said.
Meanwhile, former J&K chief minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday said the suspension of the social media sites by the PDP-BJP government would harm the state's economy and render thousands of youth unemployed.
"The continued blockade of Internet will seriously affect our businesses and especially youth-oriented new startups in the ecommerce sector that depend primarily on Internet accessibility and penetration. This will in turn lead to an increase in unemployment as the private sector; especially the tourism sector will be severely hit," Farooq said.
"Using such measures to suppress dissent against a deeply unpopular government is as futile an exercise as that government continues to be in power despite being rejected by the people of the state," he added.