- 2G internet service started in Kashmir from January 24, but its speed is very slow.
- Many startups are on the verge of closure, with hundreds of people in the cell phone sector in danger.
- According to Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a loss of 18 thousand crores in Kashmir.
SRINAGAR : Internet access remains a major challenge even after 6 months of Article 370 being removed in Kashmir. Even though 2G internet service has been restored, people are not able to use it due to the slow speed. Photo journalist of Kashmir Tariq says- ‘We are not able to upload the photos in the email. Its speed is so slow that even the website is not opening. Only mobile internet has been restored in Kashmir, but broadband connections are still closed. Telecom companies are being signed on a bond before the broadband connection is restored, so that users cannot access social media. In this bond, not only social media but also VPN service, WiFi, encrypted files, videos and photos are not allowed to be uploaded. In addition, all USB ports of the computer also have to be disabled. If there is any kind of misuse of internet then it will be the responsibility of the company. Apart from this, companies will also have to give access to content at the behest of security agencies.
The internet was shut off after the removal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August. Internet was started in Ladakh from 27 December, but the internet continued to be banned in Kashmir. Subsequently, in January, the Supreme Court directed the central government to review all restrictions and said that Internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution.
People facing troubles with the ban on internet in Kashmir
In Kashmir, people are also facing a lot of trouble due to the ban on internet and broadband connection. People are unable to book flights and hotels. Students are also having difficulty in studies. They are not able to prepare for the course. Apart from this, students are also unable to apply for admission online.
5 major problems due to internet ban
- Startup Stalled: Previously the people who were employing, now in search of jobs. The biggest impact of internet ban has been on Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Startup India’ program. People who started startups are being affected by their business because of the ban on the Internet. Many start ups are on the verge of closure. Mohammad Ashfaq, 42, used to work in a bank earlier, but 9 years ago he quit his bank job to start a finance and trading company in Kashmir. It was risky to start his own company in Kashmir stricken by violence and conflict for decades, but his idea started and the company also stood up. Ashfaq’s company provides data processing and tour packaging to people and companies. At one time more than 400 people worked in his company. But due to internet ban in Kashmir, they have to remove employees.Ashfaq says they will see another month. If the situation does not improve after that, they will shut down their company. Ashfaq says’ I am not even able to pay my office rent. Earlier my office was in many rooms, but now it has been reduced to only one room. He explains, ‘I paid the employees for three months after August in the hope that the situation will improve now. But now there is no hope. I had to remove most of my staff from work.We have seen similar situations before in Kashmir, but never seen worse conditions than this. Ashfaq says that he has also kept a staff in Delhi for the last two months so that work can go on. But this has only increased the cost, because nothing is known about how long the internet will start.
- Economy: Loss of more than 18 thousand crores & 5 lakh jobs lost. According to a report by the International Council of Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), the economy of Kashmir had lost Rs 4 thousand crores in the last 6 years due to internet shutdown. Whereas, a recent report by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) states that there has been a loss of 18,000 crore rupees in Kashmir due to the continuous ban and internet shutdown. With this, 5 lakh jobs have also ended. The cell phone sector has suffered the most from the Internet shutdown. There are over 30 lakh mobile phone users in Kashmir. There are 1,450 registered retail mobile stores, which employ more than eight thousand people. Internet shutdown has led to a 90% drop in mobile phone sales. There is also the danger of hundreds of people losing their jobs.
- Courier Service: People are shifting their office out of Kashmir. Internet shutdown in Kashmir has also affected the courier service there. There is no online tracking of couriers without internet. Courier service providers are also unable to contact their customers, as most of the customers do not have pre-paid mobiles and pre-paid mobile service is also blocked in Kashmir. Even before this, the government has banned the Internet many times, but this time the shutdown was the longest, due to which people are forced to shift their business out of the valley.
- Reporting: Reporting biggest challenge for media in Kashmir. Reporting in Kashmir has also become difficult due to the Internet shutdown. Story filing is the biggest challenge for the media persons here. Reporters living here are filing their stories elsewhere. Like – some people come to Kashmir in the morning, work all day and go to Delhi or elsewhere in the evening and file their story. At the same time, some journalists load their story in flash drive and send it to Delhi through people going out of Kashmir. However, after criticisms, the government has started a media center equipped with about 10 Internet enabled terminals. Every day hundreds of journalists in this center have to wait for hours to file a story.
- Education: Have to go from Kashmir to Delhi to download study material The ongoing lockdown in Kashmir since August 5 has also badly affected the education sector here. Students here have also stopped going to school and college. The most impact of internet ban is on the students who are preparing for the competitive exam. Due to the shutdown, students are neither able to download the exam form nor submit it. The government has started internet kiosks in every district of Kashmir, but students complain there is always a crowd here. Also, internet speed is also very slow.