Jammu and Kashmir Government Bans 20 Social Media Services for a Month

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With students' protests and unrest showing no signs of letting up for second consecutive week in the Valley, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday chose to suspend 22 social networking websites and applications, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsAap, in Kashmir.

Internet services have been banned in the state on several occasions in the past also but it is for the first time that the state home department has issued a formal order to this effect.

Students on Wednesday again clashed with security forces in parts of Kashmir Valley.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the valley, where most people favour independence or a merger with mainly Muslim Pakistan.

"Using such measures to suppress dissent against a deeply unpopular government is as futile an exercise as that government continues to be in power despite being rejected by the people of the state", he added.

Social media are also being used by both sides in the conflict to spread images and video footage in a growing war of information.

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The order states that as per available inputs, over a period of time, a progressively increasing trend has been witnessed with regard to the misuse of social media sites by elements inimical to public order and tranquility, thereby impinging on public safety, particularly in the Kashmir Valley.

The 11-second clip went viral and has sparked outrage and heated debate about the role of the military.

Earlier this week the leader of Jammu and Kashmir, the northern state that administers the area, held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the developing crisis.

Students have staged nearly daily protests in recent weeks, chanting slogans demanding freedom from India and throwing rocks at police.

The protests were inflamed by the alleged police atrocities on the students of a degree college in southern Pulwama town on April 15.

The home department's order appears to primarily rely on section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act (1885) and the Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules 2007 - a decision that some experts say may be unconstitutional.

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