SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti went a step ahead of the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in choking communication networks in Kashmir valley while dealing with anti-government protests.
Tension erupted in Kashmir valley on July 8 when government forces killed the most-popular militant commander Burhan Wani reportedly in an encounter. At least 33 civilians and a police driver have died since then, mostly after government forces opened fire on ‘violent’ protesters.
Mobile internet services were snapped across Kashmir valley only four hours after Burhan’s killing. However, in four district of South Kashmir, the government not only snapped the internet, but completely snapped mobile telephone services, leaving most of the people with no means to communicate. The blockage was yesterday extended to North Kashmir’s Kupwara district after the killing of a protesters there.
However, Mehbooba Mufti, had strongly criticized blockage of internet when she was the leader of opposition in state assembly.
In October 2012, when Omar Abdullah led government ordered blockage of Facebook and YouTube websites in Kashmir after an anti-Islam video created tension in the region, Mehbooba criticized the ban in the state assembly saying it could agitate the youth of Kashmir.
“The young boys and girls use internet to stay connected and express themselves… Instead of coming on streets if they express themselves on internet, it should be encouraged,” Mehbooba had said (link). “It is the need of the day… we may not be using it as much but the youth are dependent on it.”
Omar Abdullah led government had banned Short Messaging Service and social networking websites, but Mehbooba led government stepped ahead to blocked the telecom services in entirety.
This is not the first time Mehbooba led government blocked communication networks.
Kashmir saw a complete curb on mobile internet service after five civilian deaths in Handwara as clashes erupted between civilians and government forces following an alleged molestation bid on a schoolgirl by an army man.
The coalition government led by Sayeed had also blocked internet for a few days in September last, that too on the festival of Eid, when tension erupted over beef ban in Jammu and Kashmir.