J-K suspends Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp among 22 social media sites for a month
The Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday suspended 22 social media sites, including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, for a month as students’ protests and unrest refused to die down in the restive state.
The order by the home department came amid an existing ban on 3G and 4G mobile services. The services were suspended on April 17. Broadband has also been reduced to 2G speed.
“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,” the government said in the order.
Social networking sites that have been suspended include QQ, WeChat, Ozone, Tumblr, Google+, Baidu, Skype, Viber, Line, Snapchat, Pinterest, Telegram, Reddit, Snapfish, YouTube (Upload), Vine, Buzznet, Xanga, and Flickr.
The government said the step was being taken because “... it has been felt that continued misuse of social networking sites and instant messaging services is likely to be detrimental to the interest of peace and tranquillity of the state”.
“Whereas anti-national and inimical elements largely succeed in transmitting unverified objectionable inflammatory material/content through the medium of these social networking sites and internet messaging services without any accountability, thereby endangering public life and property and causing unrest/disharmony in the state,” it added.
The government has also moved the Jammu and Kashmir high court and filed a caveat against any public interest litigation aiming to stop the ban.
“Any message or class of messages aimed at a person or class of people shall not be transmitted through any means in Kashmir for one month,’’ the state government said in the caveat.
Student protests have become a new challenge for the administration in Kashmir where the law and order situation has gone downhill after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani last summer.
The situation has become more tense after several video clips, widely circulated on social media, showed alleged human rights violation by the armed forces.
Unprecedented student protests had erupted across the valley on April 17 against the alleged high-handedness of security forces in Pulwama Degree College in south Kashmir on April 15.
Following the April 17 clashes, the government had ordered the shutdown of classes in the institutions in an attempt to prevent escalation of law and order situation.
On Monday, 24 people, including 12 security personnel, were injured as students of Srinagar’s Sri Pratap Higher Secondary School and College clashed with police who used tear gas to disperse the protesters as colleges opened in Kashmir after a five-day shutdown.
It was the latest outbreak of protests after a botched bye-election in the summer capital in which at least eight people were killed.
The opposition, which has already demanded governor’s rule and the resignation of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, said the suspension will be a setback for students as well as the state’s economy. National Conference president Farooq Abdullah said the ban will “play havoc with the state’s economy rendering thousands of youth unemployed’’.