Kashmir: E-Curfew is Obnoxious
The present age is the age of Information Technology and it is well described as the “Digital Age”. In the contemporary times, it is hard to envisage life without the e-services. People from diverse threads of life are directly or indirectly dependent on the internet. Businesses and public sectors remain largely connected through it. In the modern civilised societies, education, banking, business, trading, travel, manufacturing and other services primarily depend on Internet connectivity. The Internet establishes the backbone of business activities. The internet has undeniably become a huge part of our lives. Our generation relies on the internet for a multitude of tasks.
In this era of the digital age, Kashmir narrates a different tale. Internet ban is the routine part of our life. Besides a physical curfew, a ban on the internet has emerged as a novel way to curb the voice of common people. This ban on the internet is now described as an E-Curfew. The state has strategized for clamping down of the internet and communication services and this has psychosomatic costs beyond the immediate inferno.
In recent past, Valley has remained under intermittent e-curfew for the seventh month and the entire population goes offline without even proper official orders. Telecom companies are becoming a nuisance for a common man. It is becoming extremely difficult to remain without the internet for weeks, simply because state imposes a blanket ban.
E-Curfew is an unprecedented expression of state violence. There are no recorded instances from democracies where people are facing both bans on physical movement and E-curfew at the same time. Kashmir presents a harsh case of total blackout.
Horror and shock of this sort are a continuum. The repetitive cycles of state belligerence are leading to violence, deprivation of civil liberties and violation of fundamental rights and ever escalating loss of human life in the valley. Internet ban is serving the purpose of the state to hide its brutal faces from the wrath of the global community.
Human rights reports have identified e-curfew as a technique of torture at a mass level. What is surprising is that in a highly militarised area, the government feels a need to impose internet curfew to bring the situation under control.
What adds to the agony is the media gag wherein the newspaper offices are raided, newspapers confiscated and editors threatened with dire consequences. These are the worst controlled techniques that affect the objectivity of journalism.
Since the continuous disturbance and repeated ban on network and communication results in the psychological paralysis among common people and creates agony among the citizens, it may potentially be retaliated in a very ferocious manner.
The three decades of brute violence in the valley have hardened the indifference of India’s political as well as intellectual classes to the human costs of country’s brutal manoeuvres in the Kashmir region.
When the images and videos of civilian brutalities by the state forces from Valley went viral on social media, the government blocked the network communications. This shows a disregard to Kashmir in this age of “digital world” and shows how the state is attempting to save its face from international condemnation. Civil society groups and human rights organisations have made little efforts against these wicked attempts of crowd control.
Historically speaking, such inhuman response to the peoples’ protests and mass dissent has been a practice of tyrants and authoritarians, who don’t abide by the rule of law. Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen called this state suppression as “the biggest blot on India’s democracy”.
We need to have an introspective study of circumstances that lead to banning of the internet. When the new generation that is flourishing in the age of information technology is facing long internet bans, how would they respond?
How can the ‘constitutionally democratic’ nations snatch the basic human rights such as the freedom of expression and opinion? How can the government become the custodian of public and private morality? This is such kind of cruelty that was supposed to be expected in pre-modern ages and not the contemporary times. This very act on the part of government stands exposed and every sane person is outrightly condemning it.
While the government is using its military might, E-curfew method to silence the just voices of ordinary citizens are simply obnoxious. There is thus an urgent need for the government to revise this undemocratic approach and allow people to speak their heart and mind. The government needs to establish the statesmanship and deal with the Kashmir issue by recognising the political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
*The author is a Research scholar at Department of History and Culture, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi. He is interested in conflict studies and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Oracle Opinions.