Internet shutdown in IOK longest ever in democracy: Report » Kashmir Media Service

Washington, December 18 (KMS): The shutdown in occupied Kashmir, which entered its 136th day, today, is now the longest ever imposed in a democracy, according to Access Now, an international advocacy group that tracks Internet suspensions, Washington Post reported.

The 7 million people in the Kashmir Valley were abruptly returned to a pre-Internet era when India imposed the shutdown on August 5, the day it revoked Kashmir’s special status. All communications were shut and politicians were detained, the newspaper citing the advocacy group added.

The people of Kashmir “are unable to operate online businesses or read this article. In early December, they began disappearing from WhatsApp because accounts are automatically deleted after 120 days of inactivity,” the report said.
David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression had called the blockage draconian and worse than collective punishment.

Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia-Pacific policy director at Access Now, said it was unprecedented for a democracy to block access to the Internet for such an extended time and for such a large population.

The current shutdown has paralyzed online businesses. The Kashmir Box, the most prominent e-commerce venture in the region, ships local produce and handicrafts to 50 countries. Since August, it has been unable to take new orders or fulfill pending ones. Founder Muheet Mehraj, 29, estimated the company has lost $ 420,000.

“I feel terrible,” he said. “There can’t be a future for the company if you don’t know there will be Internet.”

Doctors say the shutdown has made it more difficult to care for patients. Omar Salim, a leading urologist in Srinagar, said his abiding regret is not being able to consult with colleagues on a particularly difficult case.


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