by Sarmad Dev
SRINAGAR: Many areas across Kashmir witnessed long internet outages starting from October through November. These clampdowns in absence of formal order, are a source of mass confusion and loss to business, education and staying informed.
As per the authorities, the shutdown of internet services was a precautionary measure in lieu of the recent civilian killings. Yet the areas of Srinagar and South Kashmir are still facing the irregular clampdown without any official statement from any authority. The areas which have reported protracted internet outages include Anchar, Eidgah, Qamarwari, Soura, Buchpora, MR Gung, Nowhatta, Safa Kadal, Bypass in Srinagar district, Kulgam district’s Wanpoh, Qaimoh and the Litter area in Pulwama.
As news coverage of the selective clampdown has not been responded to by the officials, the crisis now splashes on social media.
“For me, the internet is snapped at 6 am and restored at 11 am then snapped again at 4 pm only to be restored at 11 pm for the night,” one user told this reporter from Pulwama.
In another tweet, he wrote, “My 8 year old nephew had a class/exam today at 4:30 but the mobile internet wasn’t working (it only works in the night and in the day from 11 to 4) and the airtel fibre never works at home so he travelled 5km with his mom and gave that class in a car.”
A Journalist, who wanted to remain anonymous, had visited Pampore on Thursday for a story and needed Internet access for his research but all networks were down.
“I had to do some work in the area (Pampore) and was there for the whole day,” the journalist said. “I needed access to the internet to check up on my research and other things but was unable to do so until I left the area and the services resumed.”
“I only get a notification that I have a missed call. I have to reboot my phone only then, am I able to call back and even then, the call does not last long,” said Irfan, who works with an ad agency in Soura. “But, where I live on rent, the network is fine.”
Another caller who identified himself as Dilaer Abbas from Rainawari, Srinagar said that the whole of the downtown area is facing the problem.
“It has been ten days. We initially thought that it was being done for the visit of the Home Minister but even after he flew back, the restrictions remained. Why is the internet not being restored?” he asked.
Though the barring of internet and calling services is a huge setback for the civilians, yet the people who are most affected by it are businesses, medical professionals, courier service delivery boys and mostly students.
Meanwhile, several media outlets quoted Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang K Pole as having said that the internet in some areas was suspended after target killings.
“The services were suspended after security agencies thought the evening hours were being used by militants to target civilians,” Divisional Commissioner was quoted as saying.