India Shut Down Kashmir’s Internet Access. Now, ‘We Cannot Do Anything.’

India Shut Down Kashmir’s Internet Access. Now, ‘We Cannot Do Anything.’


MUMBAI, India — Masroor Nazir, a pharmacist in Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar, has some advice for people in the region: Do not get sick, because he may not have any medicine left to help.

“We used the internet for everything,” said Mr. Nazir, 28, whose pharmacy is near the city’s famed clock tower. He said he normally went online to order new drugs and to fulfill requests from other pharmacies in more rural parts of Kashmir Valley. But now, “we cannot do anything.”

As the Indian government’s shutdown of internet and phone service in the contested region enters its 11th day, Kashmir has become paralyzed.

Shopkeepers said that vital supplies like insulin and baby food, which they typically ordered online, were running out. Cash was scarce, as metal shutters covered the doors and windows of banks and A.T.M.s, which relied on the internet for every transaction. Doctors said they could not communicate with their patients.

Only a few government locations with landlines have been available for the public to make phone calls, with long waits to get a few minutes of access.

The information blockade was an integral part of India’s unilateral decision last week to wipe out the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, an area of 12.5 million people that is claimed by both India and Pakistan and has long been a source of tension. That has brought everyday transactions, family communications, online entertainment and the flow of money and information to a halt.

“We’ve seen more than 400 shutdowns,” he said. “This has been the worst of them all.”

“It helps in any kind of situation which can flare up the sentiments of people and flare up the bulk mobilization of people,” said Rahul Pandey, deputy superintendent of police in Darjeeling in northeastern India, where the internet was blocked for about 100 days in 2017.

The government has argued that one reason for suppressing the internet in Kashmir was to stop the spread of false information.

But in the digital blackout, rumors have continued spreading the old-fashioned way: by word of mouth.



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