Srinagar, April 27: Voices in Kashmir has expressed concern about the bleak development where it was learnt that Kashmir’s economy lost Rs 4000 cr in 6 years due to internet shutdown. These figures were revealed by the New Delhi-based think tank International Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER). It looked at the period between 2012 and 2017 to analyse how the disruption was dampening economic activity of the businesses that had come to rely heavily on the internet.
Mir Imran, a human rights activist while talking to Kashmir News Bureau stated –“ Frequent internet shut down during tense and volatile times has become a norm in Kashmir. The people who have to bear the worst brunt of the shutdown of the internet start-ups in the Kashmir valley who during internet shutdown struggle to meet with the demands from their customers. The lack of internet connectivity from time to time has also kept us aloof from our official activity as internet connectivity is backbone of current working areas. This communication breakdown that gets imposed on us definitely looks to be among the worst we have experienced. I would here like to state that Declaring internet access a basic human right, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution in July 2016 that “condemns unequivocally measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online. Yet, in Kashmir we are witness to internet blockade many a times.”
A netizen Tariq Ahmad Malik said the repeated internet bans not only affects our economy but also a problem of freedom of expression, adding, these moves can’t be justified.
Pertinently, the findings of this study have revealed that most adversely hit sectors were e-commerce and freelancing, it also concluded that tourism, IT services, press and news media, banking, education, healthcare, manufacturing and heavy industries have also been hit by internet shutdown. According to the study in 2012 the government shut down the internet three time that resulted in the loss of Rs 23 crore while as the loss caused by five disruptions in 2013 was Rs 1088 crore. The ICRIER study says losses caused by shutdown in 2014 could not be estimated. The internet suspension during 2015 caused the Valley Rs 423 crore losses while as in 2016, the year of longest protest demonstrations the loss to the economy was around Rs 655 crore because internet was cut off for a long time. (KNB)