CPJ asks India to revoke social media ban

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NEW YORK: Indian officials in held Jammu and Kashmir should immediately revoke a month-long ban on access to social media services, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said in a statement.

The Indian government had ordered all internet service providers to block users’ access to 22 platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp and YouTube, according to reports.

India’s home department said the order was in “the interests of peace and tranquillity” in the region and that social media was “misused by anti-national and anti-social elements”. R.K. Goyal, the principal secretary who had signed the order, could not be reached by phone and did not immediately respond to an email, the statement said.

“The sweeping censorship of social media under the pretext of ‘maintaining peace and order’ will bring neither peace nor order,” said Steven Butler, Asia Programme Coordinator at the CPJ.

“Such broad censorship clearly violates the democ­r­atic ideals and human rights India purports to uphold.”

The censorship of social media was instituted be­cau­­se India “has completely lost control” in Kashmir, Hilal Mir, editor of the independent newspaper The Kashmir Reader, told the CPJ.

He credited the videos’ wide circulation on social media for pushing the government to open inquiries into soldiers’ conduct.

He said that mobile phone data service had also been shut down.

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