The frantic developments in the past few hours have seen the imposition of Section 144 in Srinagar as well as the suspension of mobile internet services in Kashmir, as well as mobile services, wireline or landline services as well as wired broadband internet services. This went into effect a few hours ago, and there is no clarity yet on when the mobile data as well as other communication services in the region will resume. This isn’t the first time this year that the internet services for the citizens of the state have been blocked off temporarily, owing to larger political developments in the region.
The latest shutdown of internet services is the 51st just this year in Kashmir, according to data by the Software Freedom Law Centre, India (Sflc.in) as part of the latest Internet Shutdowns Report. This data also includes the recorded interruption in data services in certain regions of the state. Before the latest internet shutdown was implemented, the previous shutdown happened in the Shopian district on July 27, as the military embarked on a large scale search operation after two militants were killed in a gunfight. Before that, mobile internet services were also restricted in the Anantnag district as security forces launched a search operation in the region to track down militants who gunned down a security officer of PDP leader Sajjad Mufti. Just a day before, reports emerged that internet services had been shut down in the Sopore village of Baramulla district after a gunfight between security forces and militants hiding in the area.
On July 10, mobile Internet services were suspended as a preventive measure in Anantnag, Pulwana, Kulgam and Shopiyan districts of south Kashmir. This coincided with the view of third death anniversary of militant Burhan Wani of the terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen. Earlier, Greater Kashmir had reported internet services being suspended in the Shopian district on July 5, after the security forces were in the midst of an encounter with militants.
In June, internet services were restricted for certain periods of time twice in Budgam as well as in Shopian, Pulwama and twice in Anatnag as precautionary measures while security forces combated the militants. Specifically, United News of India reported that on June 19, internet services were suspended as a precautionary measure to prevent spread of rumours on the death anniversary of Mirwaiz Qazi Nissar Ahmad of the Ummat-e-Islami (UeI).
In May, there were 8 shutdowns in the region while there were 6 shutdowns reported in the month of April. There were 6 internet shutdowns in different parts of Kashmir in March, while February saw 7 shutdowns of mobile internet services. The year had started off with just 5 shutdowns in January.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir, according to data collected by Sflc.in suggests that last year, there were 65 internet shutdowns. Before that, the year 2017 recorded 32 shutdowns, 2016 had 10 shutdowns, 2015 recorded 5 shutdowns and the year 2014 also clocked 5 shutdowns of mobile internet services.