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J&K reports 27 internet shutdowns since 2012

New Delhi, Feb 8: Jammu and Kashmir has experienced 27 incidents of internet shutdown since 2012, the highest for any Indian state, with nine such instances reported in 2016 only, data released by legal service organisation SFLC revealed on Wednesday. The data provided by Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC) says that since 2012 there have been 62 incidents of internet shutdowns across various regions in 12 states in the country, with 30 being reported in 2016 itself, and four instances in the first month of 2017. SFLC revealed this data through ‘Internetshutdowns.in’ launched on Wednesday as a resource website on Internet shutdowns in India.

Mobile internet services were spped by the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016, citing security reasons. The services were restored on November 19 for post-paid connections and on January 27, 2017, for pre-paid connections. As a standard procedure, mobile services and mobile internet is spped in Kashmir Valley on Republic Day and Independence Day. However, this year’s Republic Day did not see mobile services and mobile internet being shut down. Of the total 62 shutdowns recorded since 2012 in India, 44 were targeted at mobile internet services while eight targeted both fixed-line and mobile internet services.

‘Internetshutdowns.in’ also hosts a continually-updated Internet Shutdown Tracker for India that offers detailed records of all internet shutdowns reported from 2012 and presents this data on an interactive map. The data available from the website revealed that the number of shutdowns increased more than two fold from 14 in 2015 to 30 in 2016. “In democracies, essential social facilities should not be turned off by the State, which acts in the peoples’ interests. Internet should not be intentiolly broken by government, pursuing one form of ‘law and order’ at the expense of all other social functioning,” said Mishi Choudhary, President and Legal Director at SFLC. He added that internet shutdowns grievously hurt the economy.

“The shutdowns in 2015-16 cost Indian businesses an estimated amount of $968 million,” Choudhary said, citing a report by the US policy think-tank Brookings Institution. The website also gives users an option to report an internet shutdown to keep the tracker updated. (IANS)