Kashmir Inc Fumes: 'Internet Ban Part Of Agenda Of Destruction'

27 September 2015
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: The 'unprecedented' ban on internet in Kashmir has severely hit businesses, with traders' community accusing the state government of 'inflicting financial miseries on us.' The PDP-BJP government Thursday evening imposed a 40-hour ban on internet services in the state. It was later extended by another day. According to Valley-based traders, the ban on internet services-which included broadband for the first time-had a massive impact on overall business and tourism sector in Kashmir. The online businesses such as travel bookings, software developing institutions and hotels incurred heavy losses while trucks carrying goods to Kashmir remained stranded at Lakhanpur Toll Plaza for want of online bills necessary for importing stocks to Kashmir, said a group of Valley-based traders. Chairman of Kashmir Economic Alliance, Muhammad Yaseen Khan, termed the decision to ban internet as 'part of PDP-BJP government's agenda of destruction.' 'It's for the first time that ban on internet was imposed during Eid. It had direct fallout on businesses,' he said. 'It is a shame that due to fear of some people uploading cow slaughtering videos, the government held entire Kashmir hostage and the business community consequently suffered losses worth millions of rupees. Such a ban is unthinkable in this age of communication and information technology.' The tourism sector, according to traders associated with it, was 'the worst victim' of internet ban. 'On one side the Chief Minister is visiting outside J&K to promote Kashmir tourism and remove the negative perception about the Valley, but on the other, his government is taking extreme steps like internet ban and sending the Valley back to Stone Age,' said president of Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association, Showkat Chowdhary. 'Snapping internet connectivity is an atrocious decision by the PDP-led government which has dented Valley's image outside the state,' he said. 'The PDP-BJP government is an 'unholy' alliance which has failed to deliver and is now resorting to hasty decisions to save their sinking ship.' Chowdhary, who is also chairman of his faction of Kashmir Economic Alliance, said the government has failed to deliver on ground and suggested PDP to 'part ways with BJP and honor the mandate given by people of Kashmir to them-the mandate to keep BJP at bay.' President, Urban Tour and Travel Association, Jan Muhammad, said his business was badly hit by the internet ban. 'On Saturday I was expecting a group of tourists to arrive in Kashmir, but due to ban on internet I couldn't get their passes at Srinagar Airport nor could I provide them the itinerary details. This left them fuming and they complained of poor services. I couldn't make them understand that Kashmir government has banned internet services fearing that cow slaughter videos will be uploaded on Facebook. They would have laughed at me,' he said. Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCI) President, Rakesh Gupta said the ban was 'completely uncalled for' as 'snapping internet services has resulted in a 'divide' between people of Kashmir and Jammu regions.' 'If the government had some apprehensions about tension in Kashmir region, it could have ordered the ban in Valley exclusively and not in Jammu region. Why people of Jammu were subjected to unnecessary harassment?' Gupta asked. 'To hide their inefficiencies, the Jammu and Kashmir Police as well as the PDP-BJP combine ordered snapping of internet services.'