The big picture

Internet issues and economic losses only scratch the surface when it comes to the impact of the longest ever internet shutdown in a democracy.

The fact that the government also cut phone lines and destroyed tourism (and thereby livelihoods) meant “swarths of the population were invisibilised and pushed behind an iron curtain,” wrote Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times—a publication that saw its advertisements choked, electricity supply snapped, and its office and assets sealed without due process.

“All this was not collateral damage. Communication gags are primarily designed to disempower and control a population. The more prolonged they are, the greater destruction they cause,” she explained.

The internet may be back but the guards are still up. Journalists are being summoned to the cyber police station, and the J&K police are setting up an army of cyber volunteers to patrol social media and flag posts on “radicalisation” and “anti-national activities.”

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