Anger In Kashmir Valley After Blackout On Social Media

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Messaging services as Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Twitter have been banned across Kashmir valley.

Srinagar:  There is anger in the Kashmir Valley after the state government blocked 22 social media and instant messaging sites on Wednesday in a bid to prevent street protests. While popular sites and messaging services as Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Twitter have been banned, broadband speed has also been slowed down by half.

"I am affected in a big way, YouTube offers online classes, which I am not able to get now," said a class 12 student in Srinagar.

"We go to Google and download study material, anything we are not able to understand, we try find about it on the internet, they have done a very wrong thing by blocking internet", added another student.

In the last five years, internet has been blocked more than 25 times in the Valley to prevent unrest from spreading, but for the first time the government has launched a crackdown against social media in Kashmir.

Images of a Central Reserve Police Force or CRPF team getting pushed and kicked and a civilian being used as a human shield by the army had gone viral on social media. The government says social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook are used to spread rumours and mobilise people to rush to encounter sites.

"Such moves also bring about some bit of inconvenience but larger goal is that the safety and security of public at large is secured," said Suhail Bukhari, media advisor to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

"We are completely dependent on the internet for our business, our studies, for our research, for our social networking, for everything. If I have to pay a mobile bill, I can pay it on the internet, but now I have to spend half a day lining up on the counter of the BSNL office to pay my bills," said Sheikh Sajad, a businessman.

The state police has detained more than 250 people for circulating "objectionable content" on social media.

"We used to get to know about anything happening in the district somewhere. If anything used to happen as such messages about them were circulated in the groups so a lot of problem used to occur because of that, that's why police called us and asked us not to do it", said a group of youngsters undergoing counselling by the police in Pulwama district of south Kashmir.

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