Communication Clampdown Has Crippling Impact

by Sarmad Dev

SRINAGAR: The communication clampdown, now in its third day albeit partially, has created a situation that people have started remembering the post-August 2019 days. It has proved especially crippling to patients, students, and journalists.

Authorities snapped all services including calling and broadband services within hours after Geelani’s death on September 1, 2021. Though the BSNL and STPL broadband were not switched off, the speed was hugely low.

“My brother is already facing a lot of issues and he shares all his problems with us to feel better but because of these continuous shutdowns, he gets really anxious and so do we,” Lubna, whose brother is working in Jeddah said. “We love him and we want to stay in touch with him all the time but they (the higher authorities) wouldn’t let us.”

Kashmir is not new to communication blackouts. The last blackout in 2019 lasted for six months and high-speed internet was restored after 550 days leading to a digital divide besides creating problems for the residents of the valley, especially the patients, students trying to study online or give exams, Kashmiris who are currently living outside with no whereabouts of their families, journalists who are mainly dependant on the internet these days and just about everyone else.

“We had an important project. But because of the internet shutdown, we were unable to do so,” Shahzaib Mir, a student of IUST, said, “Now the project has been delayed and our online, as well as offline classes, were barred, the project was really important and now we (he and his classmates) are stuck.”

Ibtiza, a student of University of Kolkata and a representative of her class said that she faced a crisis as she could not attend her online classes. Being a class representative, she is entrusted with the job of being a bridge between the teachers and the classmates.

Shabhana, an employe in an IT cell in Bangalore who is currently working from home said, “The internet and calling services were shut down abruptly and I couldn’t inform anyone from my office that things had gotten this bad here. It’s difficult for anyone to face these situations, even worse for a woman who has to handle two worlds at once.”

On the third day after the demise of Geelani, the broadband and calling services were restored yet the mobile internet services are still down causing people to find nearest routers to use the internet.

People who do not live here also faced problems. Yogesh Yadav from Bihar is a street vendor. He said he has not been able to call his family back home due to the restrictions imposed in the valley pushing him into an emotional trauma.

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