The Narendra Modi government has decided to ease the communication restrictions in Kashmir, and landline connections are set to restored from Wednesday, ThePrint has learnt.
From 16 August, a day after the Independence Day, restrictions would be relaxed further, sources said.
However, internet connections will remain down in the Valley as of now, keeping in mind the large-scale “propaganda” and “information warfare” launched by Pakistan to create unrest in Kashmir, especially Srinagar.
“Landlines will be activated from today (Wednesday) in the Valley so that communication restrictions are eased,” a source in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint.
Sources said the original idea was to restore internet connection area wise for a specific period. However, a late-night decision was taken to delay this move keeping the precarious security situation in mind.
“The reason why the communication lines were shut was to save lives. There is a massive propaganda and information warfare that has been launched by Pakistan in a bid to create violence in Kashmir,” said a source.
The source pointed out that internet had been shut down for 133 days — nearly four months — after the killing of terrorist Burhan Wani in 2016.
Social media a threat to peace in Kashmir ::
Speaking to the media Tuesday in Srinagar, Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir, said human lives have been saved by imposing “reasonable restrictions”.
Sources said since WhatsApp and other social media platforms have become tools to spread propaganda and instigate violence, internet restrictions were imposed.
“Multiple fake news are doing the rounds. You have politicians in Pakistan putting out fake videos to say that India has used gunship helicopters in Kashmir forgetting that it was Pakistan Army, which had used such choppers and tanks against Pashtun civilians,” said a source.
He also pointed out that the idea is to provoke people to come out in the streets and engage the security personnel in a violent manner.
“While forces have been told to maintain maximum restraint, they will act if the situation so demands. This would lead to injuries and then this would be used to further more violence on the streets by people inimical to peace in Kashmir,” said the source.
Law and order situation to be hit once restrictions ease ::
While Kashmir has largely remained calm barring some sporadic incidents of protests and stone-pelting following the government’s decision to scrap Article 370 on 5 August, law and order situation is expected to deteriorate once the restrictions are eased.
Sources said larger protests are likely to take place in the coming days and this has been taken into account as far as security arrangements are concerned.
“No doubt that there would be protests by trouble-makers. (But) There are enough boots on the ground to handle the situation. The idea is to ensure that the law and order does not cross the threshold that has been kept,” said a source.