Restore Network Access in Jammu and Kashmir

Quetta, Internet
Policy Observatory Pakistan (iPOP) and coalition of digital rights groups have condemned
the Indian government and demanded to immediately restore network access in occupied
Jammu and Kashmir.  The entire region has
been subjected to a total telecommunications blackout. This is the 51st time in
2019 that access to internet, declared a basic human right by the United
Nations, has been suspended here, according to cyber security and internet
governance expert Arzak Khan. Last year, there were 65 shutdowns, and 176 over
the past eight years, including a six-month ban in 2016.

On Sunday
evening, the Indian government cut telecommunication lines in the region,
leaving Kashmiris without mobile phone or fixed line communication services. Sources
have also informed that families have not been able to reach their friends and
family on the phone in Kashmir Valley. The current escalation in tensions shows
critical telecommunications infrastructure is to people’s everyday lives said
Arzak Khan. The shutdown is grinding the day to day lives of citizens to a halt
and causing potentially life threatening isolation.  The intentional blockage of access to the
internet and especially social media platforms is to disrupt communications and
curtail citizens’ access to information in order to limit what the citizens can
see, do, or communicate.

The United
Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution for the “promotion,
protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the internet” which condemns any
country that intentionally disrupts the internet access of its citizens. Indian
government is guilty of violating universal declaration of human rights in the
Jammu and Kashmir region.

Policy Observatory Pakistan has also urged the United Nations to condemn this
shutdown and draconian method of controlling citizen’s access. Given that the
Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human
rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress,
ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all

everyday Kashmiris, the telecommunications blackout is having a profound effect
on their ability to do business and provide basic services. Loss of access
could also mean an immediate threat to lives and livelihoods of millions of