Kashmir’s internet has been cut by the authorities, following the Indian government’s decision to revoke the region’s political autonomy. Kashmir has been politically independent for the past 70 years, under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
The revocation of autonomy has been met by significant civil unrest in the region, which prompted the Jammu and Kashmir government to issue an order under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which temporarily bans free assembly. Under this section of the code, the internet and mobile data can also be restricted. The order came into force at 6AM local time on August 5, and at 11AM Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced that Article 370 had been revoked.
The Jammu and Kashmir government said to Asian News International that the restrictions would be in place until further notice, and that “there shall be no movement of [the] public and all educational institutions shall remain closed.” Regional internet shutdowns under Section 144 are common in India, especially in Kashmir, where 47% of the nation’s internet shutdowns take place. Reports suggest that this is the 51st internet shutdown in the state of Jammu and Kashmir this year.
This shutdown is likely to be particularly significant, however, given that it accompanies a major change to the constitutional makeup of India. The revocation of Kashmir’s political independence also comes after years of Hindu nationalist and Islamophobic rhetoric from the government under Modi. There are fears that the internet shutdown is likely to be accompanied by serious violence against the region’s Muslim majority. Kashmir is already one of the most militarized regions in the world, and last week 10,000 more troops were sent to the area. Three prominent politicians were also placed under house arrest immediately before the Section 144 order took effect.
Junaid Azim Mattu, the mayor of Kashmir’s largest city Srinigar, tweeted before the internet shutdown took effect today: “Not sure what lies on the other side of this night but Kashmir and Kashmiris have long endured the unendurable – over and over again. May Allah be with us.”