Wahid Bhat |Srinagar
Jammu and Kashmir has experienced most Internet shutdowns in the first six months of 2019, the Software Freedom Law Centre’s (SFLC) Internet shutdown tracker has shown.
In June alone, there were 11 shutdowns, of which seven happened in Jammu and Kashmir, two were ordered in West Bengal and one each in both Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.
Internet services continue to be curtailed as part of the ongoing counterinsurgency measures by the government in Kashmir. In the first half of 2019, internet services were suspended 51 times in Kashmir and most of these suspensions of data services were reported in South Kashmir.
June 30: Mobile internet services were suspended in Budgam after a militants was killed in an encounter with the security forces. June 23: The government snapped internet services in Kashmir’s Shopian after a gunfight broke out between militants and counter- insurgent forces in Darmdora village in Panzer Keegam area.
June 19: Authorities suspended internet service in Anantnag as a precautionary measure on the 25th death anniversary of UeL founder Mirwaiz Qazi Nissar Ahmad. June 14: After the army killed two Lashkar militants in an encounter in Pulwama district, all internet services were snapped in the area.
June 12: Following clashes between local youth and security forces in Kashmir’s Anantnag, internet was shutdown in the town. June 8: Mobile Internet was suspended in parts of Anantnag after security forces killed a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant in an operation in a forest area of Anantnag.
June 3: Authorities suspended internet services in Shopian district’s Molu-Chitragam area following an encounter between the army and militants in Shopian district.
59 shutdowns in 6 months is an average of almost 10 shutdowns every month. If we carry on with this average, we are well on course to cross over 100 internet shutdowns soon. It’s worth noting that in 2018, the 100 shutdowns mark was crossed in September.
So far in 2019, Jammu & Kashmir has witnessed 55 shutdowns, accounting for over 80% of all internet shutdowns in the country this year.
By the end of last year, it accounted for almost half of all internet shutdowns. Out of the total 134 internet shutdowns last year, 65 happened in Jammu & Kashmir.
Between 2012-2018, there were 125 internet shutdowns in Jammu & Kashmir out of the 331 internet shutdowns in India in the same period.
The first reported instances of internet shutdowns in the state were in 2013, with 3 in total that year. It was the only state to have internet shutdowns in 2013 and 2014.
In 2018, there were reported 134 internet shutdowns, as opposed to the 79 Internet shutdowns in 2017, and just 6 internet shutdowns in 2014.
The actual number of internet shutdowns is in all likelihood much higher, since shutdowns are ordered secretively by state governments, and not always reported by the news media.