Indian government has banned 22 social media sites including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter in an effort to calm tensions in the occupied Kashmir. Indian authorities have taken this step in a bid to put restrictions on people of Kashmir from uploading videos and photos of human rights violations in Indian held Kashmir.
Importance of social media cannot be neglected in today’s world. People in many Arab Countries used social media as a tool for encouraging mass uprising. Similarly youth of Indian held Kashmir is very active on social media and often use the platform to expose brutalities of Indian occupied forces. As a solution, so called biggest democracy of the world, has put restrictions on freedom of speech and expression in a fear of being exposed by the people of held Kashmir. Authorities in IoK maintained that internet restrictions help to check the mobilisation of protesters, but in reality it is more about curbing the humiliation that India face through the evidencing of violations which happens through social media.
Recently, number of photos and videos uploaded by users of social media in held Kashmir went viral all over the world. For instance, a video showing Indian military tied a man to a jeep as human shield against stone-throwers, was given special coverage by international media and it stirred debates of increased human rights violations in the valley. Renowned international newspapers gave special coverage in their editorials and opinion pages to the struggle of Kashmiris. New York Times wrote in editorial that ‘members of India’s armed forces reached a new low in the long history of human rights abuses in the state of Jammu and Kashmir when they beat and then tied a 24-year old Farooq Ahmed Dar to the front of a jeep using him as a human shield”.
Despite using all might, Indian forces have failed to suppress freedom struggle. After killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani in last July, mass uprising intensified, police responded by firing on protesters with pellet guns, killing scores and injuring thousands, many of whom were blinded by pellets lodged in their eyes.
India is using all possible ways to restrict freedom of expression and speech of Kashmiris, but in this digital era, brutalities and violence is almost impossible to not be exposed.
Many viral videos showing Indian soldiers inflicting brutality on local population, is main reason behind social media ban in IoK.