Police proposes ban on Facebook in Kashmir; Says, “It’s spreading discontent”

Srinagar, Nov 20: Government is contemplating ban on social networking website Facebook following provocative, obscene and sacrilegious material uploaded from a large section of the users. Informed sources said that the police authorities have recommended to the government to place blanket ban on the website as the objectionable material could bring back the street unrest in the valley.
Sources said that police have based their recommendations on the inputs gathered from various sources including CID that some elements were bent upon destroying peace in Kashmir, and as part of their strategy were posting high objectionable material on the website. They said that posting of blasphemous material on the website early this week, which provoked street protests on Friday, was a part of the conspiracy.
The Facebook has been flooded with highly obscene and objectionable material over the past some time. Under fake names, a section of users post nude pictures and porn videos on their pages. Police is reported to have launched a manhunt to track down the users but could not arrest them as they did not operate from a given area or place. “They keep on changing their area of operations so are not traced”, said a middle-rung police officer.
Director General of Police (DGP), Kuldeep Khoda recently admitted that cyber crime was posing a serious challenge to policing. He said that three Cyber Police Stations were being set up at Srinagar, Jammu and Crime Headquarters to meet this challenge.
After three consecutive summers of unrest (2008, 09, 10), Kashmir witnessed a peaceful summer this year. Police however believe that the peace is a fragile proposition which can be undone by a small incident. “We have not lowered the guard. We are keeping a strong vigil. There are elements who are determined to destroy peace”, said a police officer. Police authorities are linking together the recent conversion issue, and sacrilegious and porn material being posted on social networking websites mainly Facebook and view it as an attempt by the vested interests to disturb peace.
The law maintaining authorities view Facebook users as major threat to peace in Kashmir. They say that last year’s unrest in the valley was fuelled by the use of social media by young Kashmiris to launch an ‘online Intifada’. The status updates on Facebook and the videos posted on YouTube were of the violence and crackdown that happened during the stone throwing incidents in the summer of 2010. While it made the over 10 million Indian online community aware that the disgruntled in Kashmir were not merely the aged Hurriyat gentlemen on TV screens but also the young and all. It led to increased international media interest in the Kashmir agitation. A police crackdown after two months saw the banning text messages, SMS service and stopping of internet services for some months during the troubled days. Police also arrested dozens of Facebook and booked them under infamous Public Safety Act (PSA).
“Azadi” is still the most cherished subject with a large number of young Kashmiri users. They keep on debating and discussing the ways and means for “azadi” unendingly. This gave rise to an anti-group as well who, on their part, have launched a severe counter campaign against Kashmir’s separatist leadership.
The latest page that addressed the Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Mohammad (SAW) in contempt and put the picture of holy Kabaa in even more blasphemous way had been named as “This dog can have more fans than Syed Ali Geelani”. Hundreds of people across Kashmir protested against the page users on Friday.
Sources said that the government did not want to give any chance to separatists to capitalize on the sentimental outburst of the people, and has advised police to take all measures and checks to keep things under control. They said that police deemed Facebook as major threat that could generate discontent, and have thus proposed to ban it, at least, in the valley.


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