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'Used for Watching Dirty Films': NITI Aayog Member Explains Why Internet Blockade in Kashmir Didn't Affect Economy

The NITI Aayog member made a remark on Saturday while responding to a question on why internet services had been suspended in Jammu and Kashmir if he thought telecom was key to India's growth.

Sumedha Kirti | News18.com

Updated:January 19, 2020, 9:54 AM IST
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'Used for Watching Dirty Films': NITI Aayog Member Explains Why Internet Blockade in Kashmir Didn't Affect Economy
News18 Creative by Mir Suhail.

Gandhinagar: Justifying internet blockade in Jammu and Kashmir, NITI Aayog member VK Saraswat said that the service in the region was used watch 'gandi filmein' (dirty films). However, a minute later he clarified his could-be-controversial remark, saying what he meant was the shutdown in Kashmir "did not have significant effect on the economy".

On the sidelines of the annual convocation at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT), a report in The Indian Express quoted Saraswat as saying: "Yeh jitne politicians wahan jaana chahate hai, woh kisliye jana chahate hai? Woh jaise andolan Delhi ki sadko pe ho raha hai, woh Kashmir mein sadko par lana chahte hai. Aur jo social media hai, woh usko aag ki tarah istamal karta hai. Toh aapko wahan internet na ho toh kya antar padhta hai? Aur waise bhi aap internet mein wahan kya dekhte hai? Kya e-tailing ho raha hai wahan pe? Wahan gaandi filme dekhne ke alaawa kuch nahi karte aap log". (Why do politicians want to go to there (Kashmir)? They want to re-create the protests happening on the roads of Delhi in Kashmir. And they use social media to fuel these protests. So what difference does it make if there’s no internet there? What do you watch on internet there? What e-tailing is happening there? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing there.)

Later, he clarified and said: "Main yeh baat bata raha hoon ki internet Kashmir mein agar nahin hai, toh uss se economy pe kuch khaas antar nahi padhta (I am saying that if there is no internet in Kashmir, then it does have a significant effect on the economy)."

The NITI Aayog member made a remark on Saturday while responding to a question on why internet services had been suspended in Jammu and Kashmir if he thought telecom was key to India's growth.

"Internet is down in Kashmir, but isn't internet available in Gujarat? The reason for shutting down internet in Kashmir is different. If Article 370 had to be removed, and if Kashmir had to be taken forward, we know there are elements there which will misuse this kind of information in a manner that will affect the law and order situation," said Saraswat was quoted as saying.

His statement came on a day when the Jammu and Kashmir administration ordered the restoration of prepaid mobile services in the Valley after over five months of suspension. It also directed restoration of 2G mobile data service on postpaid connections to access "whitelisted" sites across the Jammu division, an official spokesperson said.

Internet services, landline and mobile phones were snapped across Jammu and Kashmir on the eve of Centre's announcement to scrap special status of the erstwhile state and its bifurcation into Union Territories on August 5.

While most of the services except mobile internet were restored in Jammu within a week, Kashmir witnessed restoration of landlines and postpaid mobile services and internet facilities to essential services like hospitals in phases.

This is not the first time that a member of NITI Aayog has raised eyebrows. Last year, its vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar had come under fire for accepting the the economic slowdown in India was "unprecedented". He said the government must take steps to handle the ongoing economic slowdown. He said the entire economic situation had changed after implementation of initiatives like demonetisation, Goods and Service Tax and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

However, his statement did not go down well among certain segments and he soon issued a clarification, saying that his statement had been "misinterpreted" and "there is no need to panic or spread panic."

Taking it to Twitter, he wrote: "I would request the media to stop misinterpreting my statement. The government has been taking bold steps to accelerate our economy & will continue to do so. There is no need to panic or spread panic." In another tweet, he stated: "The cassendras should now accept that the government is well on top of the situation and will do all it can to revive the 'animal spirits' in the economy."

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