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India Bans Internet in Parts of Kashmir

On 30th June, Indian government approved suspension of mobile internet services in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir “in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State and for maintaining public order.” The language of national security has often been invoked to deny Kashmiris the right to express themselves on social media and cyberspace.

Kashmiris have experienced more internet shutdowns and restrictions than any other region in the year 2022, including Iran and Russia. More than a fifth of all web blackouts took place in Kashmir, according to a report by Surfshark, a virtual private network company headquartered in Lithuania. Kashmir ranked alongside Russia — where Moscow had cut access to social media and news amid its invasion of Ukraine; Iran, where blocks came amid mass protests that started in September.

Kashmir has experienced restricted and blocked internet regularly since 2019, when Indian authorities revoked the region’s special autonomous status. Official data from the Home Department of Jammu and Kashmir show 49 internet suspension orders were issued last year. The trend has only continued in the year 2023. In the month of May only, Legal Forum for Kashmir documented 66 state-sanctioned internet blockades.

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