It seems Internet service providers (ISPs) have blocked Facebook and YouTube in Kashmir following a directive by the government to restrict access to the websites. Reports in the media state that this move is in light of the protests and outrage against an anti-Islam video on YouTube. A report by Greater Kashmir states that mobile telecom companies have also blocked GPRS services on mobile phones. As per the report, mobile Internet access has been barred by several cellular service providers, including Vodafone, BSNL, Reliance, Aircel and Airtel.
The order was issued late last month by the state Home Department, invoking the powers conferred under section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885. "In the interest of public safety and for maintaining public order, the government directed all licensed Telecom Service Providers and Internet Service Providers to make arrangements to ensure that their subscribers in Jammu and Kashmir should not be able to download or upload the contents" with regard to the video, the order stated.
No Facebook, YouTube for the folks in Kashmir?
“If necessary, due to technical reasons, the Fully Qualified Domain Names shall be blocked viz. www.youtube.com, www.facebook.com, etc,” the order reads.
The video on YouTube, which has been deemed offensive to Islam, has been blocked in India following government directives to Google, but it now seems that access to the entire websites have been restricted. Last month, the government of Jammu and Kashmir had directed service providers to ensure that the controversial YouTube video was not accessible from the state.
Greater Kashmir cites people who called in about the mobile Internet service disruption as stating that mobile services have been taken down completely. “Apart from jamming the social networking sites, the companies have started to put restrictions on general use like e-mails and on search engines as well,” the report quotes the callers as stating.
The report has also quoted Reliance (J&K) General Manager, Ataullah Haque, as saying that every company has jammed Facebook and YouTube but the rest of the services were functioning. “Basically government has issued a directive to block the Facebook but other services are functioning,” he said. A BSNL official has confirmed with Greater Kashmir that the services have been disrupted following directions by the state government.
However, Jammu and Kashmir’s Minister for Information Technology Aga Ruhullah, when quoted by Greater Kashmir, said that there was no ban on the two sites. “There is not any ban on these websites. I don’t have proper information of it. I can’t confirm whether there is any technical snag in it,” Ruhullah said.