Access to the internet, a basic human right according to the United Nations, doesn’t come easy to residents of India’s Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
Last year, the union territory recorded 24 incidents of disruption, the highest for a single region anywhere in the world, according to Surfshark, a virtual private network provider.
“Surfshark’s internet censorship yearly recap shows that 4.2 billion people were affected by internet censorship in 2022, while India and J&K were among the hardest hit,” Surfshark said today based on its research. The company has tracked instances of partial and complete internet and social media shutdown in 196 countries and territories.
Internet outages in J&K skyrocketed after 2019 when prime minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked its constitutional autonomy and changed its status from a state of India to a union territory directly governed by New Delhi.
The region also witnessed the world’s longest internet shutdown in a democracy, from August 2019 to January 2020 when 2G internet was restored. It took 18 more months for the authorities to reinstate 4G services.
In fact, J&K alone constituted 70% of the internet outages in India in 2022. The rest of the cases were reported during the nationwide protests against the government’s new military recruitment scheme. Other parts of the country witnessed up to 10 cases, Surfshark noted in its report.
Globally, there were 112 cases across 36 countries.
“More than half of the world’s population was affected by internet censorship last year...These can be devastating and extremely dangerous, especially during wartime, protests, or violent government repressions,” said a Surfshark spokesperson.