The frequent internet shutdowns turned Kashmir a ‘digitally repressed’ region, says a recent international study. The study at the Stanford University, named as ‘Of Blackouts and Bandhs: The Strategy and Structure of Disconnected Protest in India’, says that Kashmir is the region with highest number of internet shutdowns in the world.
According to the study, that went on to became a topic of discussion on social media, India has witnessed 134 network shutdowns in 2018 and more than 100 shutdowns in 2016-17. The report says that the highest number of network shutdowns happened in Kashmir region that estimate to over 47% of the total internet blackout in India.
For instance, after the 2016 unrest following the killing of Hizb Commander Burhan Wani, the valley was under digital curfew for over 203 days, making it as one of the longest internet shutdowns anywhere else in the world. The study also mentions that half of the world’s known network shutdowns have happened in India, especially in Kashmir.
Though the report mentions that the intention behind internet shutdown is to restrict the spread of rumours, misinformation and to restore law and order, the shutdowns do not seem to attain their intentions.
The study paints a picture of irony in the much hyped up Digital India narrative of the Modi government.
The study further argues how digital repression is an effective tool in the hands of the state government that finds it “useful in pacifying or preventing protest” using strong empirical evidences.
Union IT ministry in 2018 had asked the government if Jammu and Kashmir to avoid frequent suspensions of the internet in Kashmir.
“It has come to the notice of DoT that frequent suspension of internet services are being ordered by (the) state government in circumstances where public emergency or public safety are not impacted…,” stated a letter sent by secretary of Union department of telecommunication (DoT) Aruna Sundrajan to the J&K Government.
However, the findings of the study points that nothing much have changed after all.