Kashmir Needs the Internet Now More Than Ever
The Centre must immediately restore 4G internet connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir. To deprive citizens of direct access to information and instructions during a global pandemic is unjustifiable.
Moreover, it is outright inhuman to do so at a time when there is no indication of trouble on the ground and when the forces and security arrangements in place are adequate to meet any challenges.
In any case, shutting down communications, including telephone connectivity, did not prevent agitations in 2010 or in 2016. If people are determined to protest, they will resort to primitive ways – including whistles, birdcalls and beating utensils, to communicate.
Early shock gave way to acceptance
All kinds of communication facilities were suspended on August 5 last year when Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy was scrapped. Telephone and 2G internet services have since been gradually restored, but this restoration has been way slower than needed.
To be sure, people were extremely anguished and restless when Article 370 was suddenly scrapped and almost the entire political leadership of the erstwhile state was put under detention and silenced.
However, that initial shock, bordering on grief, eased in a few weeks, and gradually gave way to resignation. Particularly, since there has been no demographic change yet, people have, by and large, gotten used to the new set-up.
There was no protest over the silencing of the state’s political leaders. Most people were already overwhelmingly cynical about politicians of the so-called ‘mainstream’ and ‘separatist’ type.