From 5th August 2019, Kashmir is under a communication shutdown. SMS service for a particular connection provider is now available for postpaid users, but Internet is still down for all Indian citizens of Kashmir.
This is above 155 days of Internet shutdown. If you are reading this blog post, it means you have an active Internet connection, and you can connect to the different servers/services that are essential to modern life. Now, think about all of those citizens of India staying in Kashmir. Think about the problem when they have to access a website for job/medical/banking/travel or any other necessary work.
The current fascist regime of India kept shouting about “Digital India” for the last few years, and at the same time, making sure to use the Internet shutdown as a tool of oppression. By using a proper communication shutdown and blocking reporters, they made sure only the false stories from the state can be reached to the readers/viewers of news across the world. But, a few brave outside journalists and too many brave local journalists from Kashmir made sure that they kept pushing the real news from the ground. They tried their best to record atrocities.
This story in the New Yorker by Dexter Filkins should be the one for everyone to read. Take your time to read how brave Rana Ayyub and the author managed to sneak into Kashmir, and did the report.
Internet shutdowns across India
Now, if you think that the Indian government is doing this only in Kashmir, then you are totally wrong. In the last few years, India saw the highest number of Internet shutdowns across the country. Govt did not care about the reason. Given any chance, they shut down the Internet. During the current protests against the regime, they shut down the Internet in parts of Delhi, the capital of India. BBC did another story on why India gets the greatest number of Internet shutdowns.
To find all the instances of the shutdown, have a look at this site from SFLC India team.
Latest attack on students and professors of JNU
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is India’s topmost university, a place where leaders of many different fields got their education, including Nobel laureates. Yesterday evening a bunch of goons from the student wing (ABVP) of the party in power (BJP), went inside of the campus (with the full support of Delhi Police, who waited outside), and started attacking students and professors with rods and other weapons. They turned off all the street lights, but, as they forgot to shut down the Internet in the area, students managed to send across SOS messages. Search #SOSJNU on Twitter to see the amount of atrocity. Now, think for a second, what if they would have managed to shut down the Internet before the attack, just like they are doing now in Kashmir and many other parts of India. Economist and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee commented how this “Echoes of Germany moving towards Nazi rule”.
Why should this matter to you, the technologist?
All of the technologies we are enjoying today, the modern world, the Internet is one of the major bounding material of the same. Think about the pain and oppression the people has to go through as this basic necessity is cut down from their lives.
Most people do not have a voice to raise for themselves. If we don’t know, then the whole country will be lost. And, we know from history what happens next.
People still count India as a democracy, actually the largest in the world. But, unless we raise up, the so-called democracy will be crushed the fascist regime in no-time.
Quick point about different mesh-network and other solutions available at Internet shutdown time
We need more documentation and examples (also translated in local languages) of the different tools available, which can help the citizens when the regime is trying their best to shut down the Internet. India is also known for random blocking of sites, and this is where free software like the Tor Project becomes so essential.