In occupied Kashmir, the puppet authorities have imposed ban on internet services suspending twenty two social networking sites for a period of one month. The Home Department of the occupied territory in an order issued on April 26, 2017 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 that have been suspended include Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, QQ, WeChat, Ozone, Tumblr, Google+, Baidu, Skype, Viber, Line, Snapchat, Pinterest, Telegram and Reditt.

The ban on the Internet and social networking sites was imposed after two shocking videos shot in two different areas in Central Kashmir made rounds on social media and massive forceful anti-India and pro-freedom demonstrations by students erupted across the occupied territory. In one video, a youth strapped to the bonnet of an Indian Army vehicle was used as human shield by the soldiers to avoid stone pelting and was paraded to different villages for several hours. In the other video, army personnel were seen firing directly on peaceful protesters with an aim to kill them. Both the videos were shot on April 9, 2017 when polling for the so-called Indian parliamentary elections for Srinagar constituency comprising three districts of Central Kashmir – Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal – was held. The occupied territory was rocked by the student protests in the second half of April almost on daily basis after injuring of over sixty students in Indian Army’s crackdown on the Government Degree College Pulwama on April 15. Hundreds of students sustained injuries in the use of force by Indian police and troops on subsequent protests.

It is a fact that India has usurped all the basic freedoms of the people of occupied Kashmir including the freedom of expression, freedom of protest, freedom of assembly and freedom of free movement. All these curbs were witnessed at a massive level during the mass uprising in 2016 to suppress the anti-India demonstrations. The latest move is another effort on part of Indian authorities to forestall any such uprising.

A ban on Internet and social media in any part of the world is condemnable as it obstructs freedom of expression and the right to seek information – the universal basic rights. It also deprives people from obtaining useful knowledge and different world perspectives that are helpful for open-mindedness and tolerance. The international community must hold India accountable for its undemocratic actions in occupied Kashmir and impress upon it to ensure that the Kashmiri people enjoy all basic freedoms.

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