10,000 Facebook accounts, 500 WhatsApp groups blocked in Kashmir

‘Crackdown’ on social media in Kashmir

Srinagar, Apr 05, 2017: Srinagar: Indian authorities are suppressing social media used in Jammu and Kashmir as they consider it a security threat in the Muslim majority state.

Authorities say separatist groups are using social media to radicalize young people to take up arms against the Indian state.

“I can tell you with certainty that there is a misuse of social media by elements inimical to peace in the valley, and to our country,” Kashmir’s Director General of Police, Shesh Paul Vaid, told media in the state capital Srinagar.

The officer said militant groups had control over some 300 WhatsApp groups, each having more than 250 members. They also use other social networking websites like Facebook, he said.

Social media is used to “instigate young boys to reach sites” where security forces encounter terror groups and then “throw stones” to help “terrorists escape from the spot,” he told the March 30 press conference.

Local media said authorities have blocked 10,000 Facebook accounts and 500 WhatsApp groups, tracing connections with terror groups operating with the help of neighboring Pakistan. Pakistan has consistently denied these charges.

However, blocking social media is a “tough task” because new replacement accounts can be easily created, said a source in a local newspaper.

Federal home minister Rajnath Singh told the lower house in parliament on April 1 that a “new trend” has emerged in Kashmir, where social media was being used by groups based in Pakistan to direct protest activity.

“I will appeal to youths not to be misled by Pakistan. Some social media applications like Whatsapp and Facebook are used to gather youths at places of encounter. These groups are based in Pakistan,” said Singh.

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