For the longest time, there has been a focus on the problem surrounding the Internet shutdown in the state of Kashmir in India. And truth be told, anyone who is even remotely aware of the problems that Kashmir has been in is aware of the region being engulfed with a string of afflictions. These have arisen out of the special status previously given to one of the most beautiful and historically relevant regions in India- the State of Jammu and Kashmir- having been revoked recently. As we all know, no longer is Article 370 applicable to the region, one that is now a union territory.
But in lines with the dramatic shift in fortunes for Kashmir, a big problem that has arisen is the sheer disconnect that the locals have with the rest of the world.
What happens in an age that is absolutely reliant and even heavily driven by the Internet (or the World Wide Web as we call it) when a part of a big country is rendered a heavy blow in the form of an absence of the Internet.
Surely, it goes without saying that the Internet is the driving force of our times – isn’t it? Megacorporations, big establishments, start-ups, financial institutions, manufacturing houses, social media and the very way we communicate with each other depends on it, does it not?
So how could the people in the region of Jammu and Kashmir have even considered a life without the Internet? And that’s not all. Where it stands in recent times, then it is believed a lot many people having WhatsApp accounts in Kashmir have been leaving groups and chats.
And the number of WhatsApp accounts in Kashmir seen leaving groups happens to be in droves.
It doesn’t help that up until now, four months since the landmark ruling which, as can be seen, has led to a polarising outcome, there doesn’t appear to be any restoration of the Internet in the valley.
Explaining the current plight of the people and the delving on the matter pertaining to the WhatsApp accounts in Kashmir, noted online journal The Verge happened to address several concerns, highlighting the on-ground happening at the moment:
“To maintain security and limit data retention, WhatsApp accounts generally expire after 120 days of inactivity,” a spokesperson for Facebook told BuzzFeed News. “When that happens, those accounts automatically exit their WhatsApp groups. People will need to be re-added to groups upon regaining access to the Internet and joining WhatsApp again.”
And that is not all. There is more to the story. The real significance of the usage of the Internet in India can be made from a simple piece of statistic.
Around one percent of India’s smartphone users live in Kashmir. So what does that mean? It means millions are likely affected by the deactivation policy.
Just think of it the mothers and fathers who are in the valley with their children being miles away, with the common link of communication forged on WhatsApp. What is to become of a family where members cannot interact with one another; where the only hope and mainstay for keeping in touch is simply- eroded? Moreover, what is the certainty that normalcy would prevail just like back in the day again?