The Postmortem Of Scrapping Telecom Services In The Kashmir Valley
By Dr. Fayaz Ahmad Bhat
09 June, 2015
I have a "Problem", "problem" to think out of box, to look at things differently from different parameters. It is a problem not going well to majority especially to those enjoying the brunt power and authority in society. From Socretarian days till date it is a problem unwelcomed by the majority and discouraged by bulk. Those suffering from the problem are subjected to suffer, suffer socially, politically and even some times physically. There are many examples when persons suffering from this “problem” were eliminated physically Socrates, is just one example.
This is a problem not germinated deliberately by a person suffering from this problem. A problem not inherited by birth or heredity but is legacy of social sciences. I too am suffering from the problem not by birth, but received in legacy by virtue of being a student of Social Sciences especially of Sociology. Many attempts and efforts were employed by my parents, friends and well wishers to remedy my problem but all in vain. I was grilled, threatened and warned of the consequences for displaying the symptoms of “problem in public particularly through write ups. Believe me or not but it is truth that I am unable to hold my body and emotions in my control when ever truth is being maligned attempts are made to change the discourse especially when it is concerned with poor and hapless . Whether it was Dr Roshan shifting blame to poor (Dr. Roshans in his write up shifted blame on gualbale patients and I was forced to respond), Education Minister disgracing teaching community (Naeem Akhtar in the valley of Kashmir disgraced teaching community and I was forced to resist via my write ups) or it is attempt of government to carry out some hidden agenda by scrapping telecommunication services in the valley my problem will appear and appear through my write ups.
In Kashmir valley mobile telecom services got badly affected as threatening and warnings posters were circulated by Lashkar Islami (an unknown organisation) to shut down mobile services in valley. Two innocent persons who were working with telecom companies for merger wages got killed. In the usual manner government and government agencies without wasting any time found militant organisations responsible for the attacks. National and local media kicked debate over it to manufacture consent. Most of the people are in chaos and confusion and unable to make any sense out of it. A well known Kashmir based Journalist Ahmed Fayaz Ali in his facebook update wrote It is an admitted fact that many of the separatist militants and their commanders have got killed or arrested with the help of mobile phones in Kashmir. In my presence, while inaugurating Software Technology Park at Rangreth, then Minister of Telecommunication in Atal Behari Vajpayees government late Pramod Mahajan said in 2002 that mobile phones could prove to be the best asset and advantage to wipeout insurgency. He said Army was in a sustained campaign opposing mobile telephony in Kashmir with the argument that it could be used by the militants to carry out their operations and ambushes their targets. If cell phone can be used by little trained guerrillas, why cant it be used by security forces against the militants? Of the articles and analysis written so far on the subject the facebook update of Ahmed Ali Fayyaz is more worthwhile and instrumental in conducting postmortem of the issue.
There are hundreds of instances when security agencies with the help of mobile phones eliminated many wanted militants and militant commanders. A number of times mobile phones proved helpful in tracking and tracing communication, location and information of militants. Many local modules of militants were busted only with the help of mobile phones. Also a number of cases were solved by security agencies with the help of mobiles. These are the main reasons that a common man sometimes considers scrapping of mobile service a handy work of militants. The doubt and suspicion goes deep and gains ground when one interacts with sympathizers of militant outfits, who favor shutdown of mobile services in the valley. They deem mobile services fundamental in the spread of immorality in society and consider it un Islamic. Looking at data and statics it seems that mobile services proved handy for security agencies in curbing movements of militants and bringing the graph of insurgency very down. This makes the arguments of army and police strong that militants are responsible for scrapping telecommunication services in the valley. However, there are many doubts and suspicions to the claims of army and police especially amid the context these development have taken place.
The reality that mobile phones proved very handy for army and security agencies is just one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is that mobile phones proved instrumental for militants to carry out their operations, wiping out Ikhwan ( pro Indian local militia) from the valley. Moreover, interactions and observations reveal that mobile telecom service in the valley has given Kashmir movement a new dimension and direction. The Kashmir struggle was almost dying in 2008 Separatists almost became irrelevant and people were often defying their strike calls. It was only with Ragda 1(summer unrest) in 2008 which gave the movement new birth with new dimensions and approach. The gun was replaced with stone pelting and peaceful protests. Mobile services proved instrumental in spreading summer unrests and highlighting Kashmir cause globally. It was first time in the history of Kashmir that protests against India, atrocities committed by security forces, killing of innocent people and vandalize of property in far flung rural areas was reported through social networking and came into international notice. The credit goes to mobile telecom services in the valley. This fact is acknowledged by the response of government by scrapping mobile services in the valley. It was just recently when on the intervention of Supreme Court of India sms services in the state were restored after many years. It is still a common phenomenon in the state that mobile services are being scrapped on special days like, 15th August, 26 January etc. When ever, wherever there is any unrest in the state the first response of the government is to scrap the mobile communication.
Now the question is why government and its agencies can be responsible for scrapping telecommunication services in the valley? What are the objectives and motives behind scrapping mobile service? For finding out the answer to these questions one needs to go back into the history and understand the context in which development has taken place.
While flipping the pages of history and history of mobile telecommunications in Kashmir suspicion and doubt gets dense that government has been responsible for scrapping mobile telecommunication in the valley. Whenever mobile communication was scrapped in the valley or Jammu it was done on the directions of government and administration. Scrapping of telecommunication services in Jammu in response to killing of a Sikh youth is a fresh example.
To understand the development in its fullest we cant ignore the context that government is aiming to create separate colonies for Kashmiri pundits (Kashmiri Hindus) in the Kashmir valley. This is a move which is widely being opposed and criticized by people in the Kashmir valley. If reports and news are believed it is being said that government has already identified the land where pundits will be settled. This is the move which is expected to throw Kashmir valley into another political unrest and in these unrests mobile telecommunication has played important part in past. Some political analysts and Kashmir experts believe that scrapping mobile telecommunication in Kashmir was just an experiment. Government just tried to see the response of the people, and before the settlement and creation of separate colonies for pundits mobile telecommunication will be scrapped in the whole valley to avoid any mass movement. Another group of scholars assume that government wanted to through the issue of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to back burner and cold thus mobile telecommunication companies are being threatened. There are arguments that some agencies and states are not happy with the flow of tourism in Kashmir valley. They want to create a psycho fear in tourists by attacking and scrapping mobile telecommunication. They throw weight age behind their argument by presenting examples of attacks carried out by some agencies on the behest of other states who were not happy with boom of tourism in the Kashmir valley as their tourism gets set back.
Whatever may be the motive and reason behind scrapping mobile telecommunication in valley one thing is certain that motive is very big and important.
Lastly, through Platonic style and words I would acknowledge my lack of knowledge and would request to those who cannot bear and digest my view point: dont be hard on me. If I have made any mistake in my consideration of argument, I assure you I have not done so on purpose. Its the ability that I lack, and clever chaps like you ought to be sorry for me and not get annoyed with me.
Dr. Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, is a student of Sociology, social activist and currently teaching Sociology at Government Degree College, Banihal, Jammu and Kashmir, India. He is an alumnus of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
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