“As A Kashmiri, Questions Of Free Speech And Movement Refuse To Leave My Mind”

Internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” said former President of USA, Barack Obama.

Its the 21st century, where we are supposedly in the most developed time of mankind. The internet has changed lives around the Globe. People have been coming up with wonderful innovations, from almost every aspect of life, and have presented it to the world.

The Internet is yet to be restored fully in Kashmir, which has been under an internet shutdown for 5 months now.

Whether the development is in the field of science, literature, or any sphere, anything takes just nanoseconds to reach any corner of the world. Anyone can access information about anything. It’s not like when people would confine themselves to very limited things; when they didn’t have access to the rest of the world.

Today, no matter where you are, or how far you are from the source of information, you will still get within nanoseconds.
Digital technology, especially the internet, has had a wide impact on the present world. Can anyone imagine if the internet were to be suspended all over the world for a day or two, what would happen?

The Internet Clampdown In Kashmir

It’s not the first time that the people of Kashmir have been denied their basic rights. An internet clampdown is something that’s been very commonly used in Kashmir. Internet clampdowns have become as common in Kashmir as curfews, hartals (strike), encounters. It seems like each encounter follows an internet clampdown in Kashmir.

The abrogation of Article 370 came along with the rhetoric to decrease unemployment in Kashmir.

From the day that the abrogation took place, on August 5, 2019, there has been no internet in Kashmir. The people who were trying to make ends meet, those who earn their livelihood through the internet, have only been left in despair.

With the internet clampdown, it seems like Kashmiris have been shunned by the rest of the world.

The recent years have been very much transformative, in terms of creating a space for work by the youngsters, for themselves, and for others as well. There are an n-number of youngsters who have launched their online shops rather than craving for government jobs, which is quite praiseworthy. But, who cares about those young investors whose businesses are wholly dependent on the internet, right?

The women of Kashmir were coming to the forefront in business, and a lot of women had launched their online stores over the last few years. They also tried to use the online space to show their creativity to the world.

But, with the clampdown, more than 150 days in Kashmir, the investors must be disappointed. After making investments they are ending up with a loss. The people of Kashmir, who were looking for new things, and also trying to get out of the established system, have always only been put down by the draconian laws.

The people of Kashmir have been left with no space to think, no space to initiate anything. As a Kashmiri, the question of free speech and of free movement grows its branches, deep down in my mind. Everyone has been greatly affected by the internet clampdown: students, people in business, news agencies, bloggers, online investors, hoteliers, and more.

Students have been the worst-hit by the internet clampdown in Kashmir. Rather than spending a lot of money on books, students used to be able to study the material available on the internet, or even buy some research papers for a very little amount and go through them, and prepare for exams.

Kashmiri schools re-open, but classrooms remain empty © BBC Network

What usually happens in Kashmir when the internet doesn’t work is that rumours about anything start to float everywhere, which just adds chaos to already-traumatised minds. The exact, accurate news doesn’t reach people. They end up believing anything which has been said. With the internet clampdown, it seems like Kashmiris have been shunned by the rest of the world.

In the present, post-modern time, its a tragedy of our civilisation, that there is a place called Kashmir where people have been left with nothing, they cannot even think, because they cannot act according to their thinking.

Not a single strong voice comes from anywhere in favour of Kashmir, against the blockade of common life, against the internet clampdown because every ‘so-called’ strong voice is afraid of the circumstances that might follow them afterwards.

India is a global market, and I feel that no powerful country would like to have a rift with India by speaking in favour of humanity. It seems like they have more interest in the market rather than the people. It seems like the people of Kashmir don’t matter at all. Not talking about the people of Kashmir, their rights, their free will, their choice, is an abnormality in itself.

In the name of employment and development, Article 370 had been abrogated. It now seems that the abrogation has only put forward unemployment over the last four months.

Featured image for representation only.
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