Mobile internet, landline and cellphone services have been snapped in parts of Jammu & Kashmir, amidst escalating political and security situation in the state. According to multiple reports, mobile internet services were snapped on August 4 (yesterday). This morning, even landline and cellphone services were purportedly suspended, leading to a communications blackout in the state. The Indian Express reported that cable TV services were also suspended in Srinagar.

MediaNama has been unable to reach police stations and sources in the Kashmir zone, as calls weren’t connecting. Aditi Agrawal of MediaNama exchanged messages with a Kashmir resident until 1:15 am today, but messages sent thereafter were not delivered. While internet shutdowns in Jammu & Kashmir are fairly common, shutting down landline and cellphone services is rare, and amounts to suspension of democratic rights in Jammu & Kashmir.

On August 4, former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were put under house arrest late at night, and Section 144 was imposed in Srinagar. Abdullah’s last tweet was at 1:14 am. Panic in the state began on July 25 when the Union Home Ministry ordered 10,000 troops of CRPF personnel into the Valley. On August 1, it was reported that 25,000 additional paramilitary troops were being rushed into the Valley, and the army and air force were on high alert.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has moved a resolution in the Rajya Sabha to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution that provides special status to Jammu & Kashmir today, which has created an absolute ruckus in the Upper House. Shah is also expected to speak in the Lok Sabha later today.

On August 2, Amarnath Yatra pilgrims were asked by the Jammu & Kashmir administration to leave the valley as soon as possible, citing “terror threats”. Jammu and Kashmir cricket team’s coach and mentor Irfan Pathan was also asked to leave the state along with 100 other cricketers. Outstation students studying in Jammu & Kashmir have also been asked to pack their bags and leave the Kashmir valley. In Jammu, all the educational institutions were closed till further orders as a precautionary measure. 

70% of all shutdowns took place in Jammu & Kashmir in 2019

  • So far in 2019, Jammu & Kashmir has witnessed 51 shutdowns, while there have been a total of 71 reported shutdowns in the whole country. The state accounts for over 70% of all internet shutdowns in the country this year. By the end of last year, it accounted for almost half of all internet shutdowns. Out of the total 134 internet shutdowns last year, 65 happened in Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Between January 2012 and July 2019, there have been a reported 172 internet shutdowns in the state. The state saw 32 shutdowns in 2017 and 65 in 2018 during the same period.
  • It was the only state to have internet shutdowns in 2013 and 2014.