SRINAGAR: Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have banned Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp after the Indian government said social media services were “being misused by anti-national and anti-social elements”. It is the first time the government has taken such a step, although it regularly blocks mobile internet signal in the Kashmir Valley. Internet services were cut 28 times over the past five years, and in 2016 the Indian government blocked internet signal for five months. Wednesday’s block, a government order said was “in the interest of maintenance of public order”. “The government hereby directs all internet service providers that any message … through the following social networking sites shall not be transmitted in Kashmir Valley with immediate effect for a period of one month or till further orders, whichever is earlier,” the order read. The sites and apps which will be inaccessible also include Wechat; QQ; Qzone; Google Plus; Skype; Line; Pinterest; Snapchat; Youtube; Vine and Flickr.
“[The ban] is to control the political space. The government is trying to control things in a military way which is not going to help,” Gull Mohammad Wani, a professor and political analyst, told media. “The government is claiming it has taken this step to calm the situation down. In the absence of social media, rumours can be more dangerous as we have seen in past.” Hundreds of student protesters have taken to the streets in recent weeks, many chanting anti-India slogans and throwing rocks at police. The students were angered by a raid earlier this month on a college in the southern district of Pulwama, in which police tried to detain the alleged ringleaders of earlier protests. Authorities claim social media sites are being used to to rally support against the Indian occupation in Kashmir. Locals, including students, and businesses have been heavily affected by the block.