Crackdown on cyberspace in Kashmir Valley


J&K police say it is to stop smear campaign of officials, but netizens worried

An online smear campaign against government officials, especially police officers at the forefront of the clampdown on protesters, on Tuesday forced the police to launch its first ever major crackdown on cyberspace in the Kashmir Valley, fuelling anxiety among netizens.

According to J&K police spokesman Manoj Sheeri, the police have activated their technical cells to monitor activities on social media across Kashmir.

A top police official told The Hindu there was a concerted campaign online against officials and policemen, “making their position precarious in society”.

Several policemen and government official were being trolled online for their role in cracking down on protesters. The fresh crackdown against netizens was triggered by a recent smear campaign against a Station House Officer (SHO), who stopped an ambulance carrying the body of a youth, killed near the encounter site in Budgam on March 28. The video of the police officer went viral, with his pictures pasted all over social media like Facebook and Twitter.

Videos and posts

“It was reported and found that some videos and posts were uploaded and shared to harm the repute of some professionals and officers,” said Mr. Sheeri.

Scores of social media users have been questioned at police stations in Srinagar’s Pantha Chowk, Zakoora and Chanapora areas so far. “Some miscreants who threatened professionals and government functionaries through their posts and uploads have been arrested,” the police said.

Valley based bloggers and social media activists see the police move as “deliberate intimidation”.

“By-elections are round the corner. There is growing anger and alienation. The move is aimed at capping the ground reality from emerging on the social media. Such acts tantamount to intimidation,” said a Srinagar based blogger on the condition of anonymity.

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