Srinagar – The government in Indian-occupied Kashmir has ordered suspension of different social media sites and applications in the valley for a period of one month till further orders.
As per an order, the Home Department has directed all Internet Service Providers that “any message or class of messages to or from any persons or class of persons relating to any subject or any pictorial content through the following social networking sites shall not be transmitted in the Kashmir valley, with immediate effect, for a period of one month or till further orders, whichever is earlier”.
Social networking sites to be suspended include Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, QQ, WeChat, Ozone, Tumblr, Google+, Baidu, Skype, Viber, Line, Snapchat, Pinterest, Telegram, Reditt, Snapfish, YouTube (Upload), Vine, Xanga and Flickr.
In the order, the government has said that the continued misuse of social networking sites and instant messaging services are likely to be detrimental to the interests of peace and tranquility in the state.
The suspension order was issued after reviewing the current situation in the valley. It is believed that the recent human abuse videos that were viral on social media disturbed the situation in the trouble torn valley, which forced the government to gag the internet and social media.
“On careful examination of all relevant factors, it is observed that the use of social media platforms, which are being misused by anti-national and anti-social elements by transmitting inflammatory messages in various forms are immediately required to be regulated/curbed,” the order reads.
It said, “The anti-national and inimical elements largely succeed in transmitting unverified, objectionable and inflammatory material and content through the medium of these social networking sites.” It was being “felt that continued misuse of social networking sites and instant messaging services is likely to be detrimental to the interests of peace and tranquillity in the state,” the order said.
“It was also observed during law and order disturbances of 2016 in the Kashmir valley that anti-national and subversive elements extensively misused social media sites and instant messaging services for vitiating peace and instigating violence, which caused large scale damage to life and property,” it added.
It is the first time the government has taken such a step, although it regularly blocks the mobile internet signal in the volatile Kashmir valley.
Indian-occupied Kashmir has been tense since April 9, when eight people including seven students were killed by police and paramilitaries during by-election violence.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the Kashmir valley, one of the world’s most heavily militarised spots where most people favour independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Clashes between rebels and government forces have become more frequent since the killing of a popular rebel leader, Burhan Wani, by security forces last July sparked widespread unrest.
Authorities responded by imposing a curfew, suspending mobile networks in large parts of the territory and seizing newspapers to try to quell protests.