Even though the Indian government has restored mobile data service and the internet to some extent in occupied Kashmir, social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram are still blocked. Hence, the residents of Indian occupied Kashmir use VPNs or proxies to bypass the restrictions.
However, according to Indian authorities, some users are trying to stir trouble in the area which has led the authorities to crack down on VPN applications that are being used to circumvent the ban on social media. According to them, this is a part of their broader effort to quell the unrest.
The cyber police chief Tahir Ashraf said,
We have identified 100 social media users and are in the process of identifying more users for misuse of social media, for disseminating fake and false secessionist, anti-India propaganda.
The authorities claim that people trying to stir trouble in occupied Kashmir are liable to face action. Police have also filed a case against people who have been accessing VPNs and proxy servers to stir up anti-India propaganda.
For those who don’t know, VPNs are a way to route data connection of any device through a private server instead of using the local internet server. Hence, giving users access to blocked websites.
However, residents of the occupied Kashmir are still adamant that they will not be stopped. Adil Altaf, 37, a businessman in Srinagar, has installed a handful of VPN applications on his smartphone. He said, “They go on blocking. I will go on shifting to other VPNs.”