‘Undeclared ban’ jams Kashmir’s internet service

Users Run Out Of Patience; Government Tightlipped,Clueless


Srinagar, Oct 2: The Jammu and Kashmir Government has come in the line of fire for reportedly blocking the GPRS services in Kashmir and also imposing an undeclared ban—exactly on the pattern of undeclared curfews—on social networking sites Facebook and YouTube.
 The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operating in Kashmir have taken the users by surprise by jamming the sites without any prior intimation. Surprisingly, both the service providers and the Government are tightlipped on the grave issue even as the users are up in arms against the “unjustified move.”
 While lower-rung officials working in the Valley-based offices of cellular companies reluctantly say the “Government has ordered jamming of the social networking sites”, the senior officials either refuse to talk on the issue or avoid media queries saying “we have nothing to say.” In the process, however, the users are having a tough time while logging in Facebook or Youtube.
 “I have been trying to connect internet through GPRS for the past one week. But the service has suddenly turned erratic. I am particularly not able to log in to Facebook or Youtube,” said Amir Manzoor, a student at Kashmir University.
 The ban has drastically hit people associated with academics, business, IT, economy and journalism. “The Government and the ISPs should come clean on the issue and tell the users why this undeclared ban has been imposed on Facebook and Youtube,” said Umreena Majeed, another university student. “The ISPs have to be answerable on this mess. We are paying hefty sum of money as fee for internet connectivity and we cannot be taken for granted.”
 The jamming has also triggered a debate in the light of freedom of speech and expression. “It is highly condemnable that the Government is not sparing even the internet services. It speaks volumes about the state of affairs in J&K,” said a group of young lawyers, affected by the undeclared ban on internet services. “There is no reason whatsoever for affecting the internet services. It is better if the services are restored. The Government is pushing people to the wall by taking such drastic steps unreasonably.”

 Legal experts told Greater Kashmir that internet service, according to cyber laws, has to be banned only when there is “likelihood of disturbance of peace in a region.” “If the State Government has ordered a ban, it is mandated to specify the reason behind it,” said senior advocate Syed Riyaz Khawar.

 Minister for Science and Information Technology Aga Syed Ruhullah, when contacted, said the State Government has not ordered any ban on the GPRS or social networking sites. “There is no order. If you have any please show it to me,” he said
 Asked why the service was jammed, the minister said there would be “some technical snag” with the service providers which the state government has nothing to do with.

 According to some media reports, the State Home Department has issued an order under Section 5 (2) of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 to block the websites. “In the interest of public safety and for maintaining public order, the government directed all licensed telecom service providers and internet service providers to make arrangements to ensure that their subscribers in J&K should not be allowed to upload or download the contents,” the reports said.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 2 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 2 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 3 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST

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