Jammu and Kashmir government has suspended the 3G and 4G mobile internet services in the valley to contain the rising violence. The authorities are also mulling to place an interim ban on social media networks including Facebook and WhatsApp as part of the crackdown.
Tensions in the restive northern Indian state quickly snowballed after a video, showing the Indian army using a protester as a human shield by tying him in front of a jeep, went viral on social media. The incident sparked outrage across the region and attracted condemnation from several corners.
To restrain the situation, the state administration said the internet services are being banned because they are being used to share videos and photos, which in turn fuel the demonstrations. This is the third time the state government has clamped down on the internet services in the last two weeks.
"People are creating havoc by uploading nasty stuff on the internet. We can't allow people to run amok on social networking sites," Director General of Police Shesh Paul Vaid told the daily Kashmir Observer, adding that the government does not have any option but to shut down the mobile internet operations.
Broadband and 2G mobile internet connections are unaffected by the latest ban. The partial curfew on the connectivity is expected to be restored after four days, though the government's official order has not specified how longer the ban will be in effect.
Several videos have been surfacing on the social media showing local politicians being threatened by separatists groups and alleged atrocities committed by the army personnel. Officials say the images circulated are primarily aimed at stoking more tensions in the region.
In another development, Indian forces are now being equipped with plastic bullets to fire upon the protesters to suppress them. Thousands of non-penetrative plastic bullets have already been sent to the army and paramilitary personnel in Kashmir. The use of pellet guns – which had drawn heavy criticism in the past – would still be used as a final resort in the non-lethal category of weapons but only as the final option.