The government decided to ban all internet services on the three Eid days. The move was likely to evoke a furious response which it did. Holding all hostage for the fault of a few is certainly not just, but we need to see the problem from a larger – less emotional and a more rational – perspective.
Our dependence on the internet is too obvious to be emphasised. But given the volatility of Kashmir as a tinderbox dangerously close to the smallest ignition, certain measures become indispensable. A single provocative act can push the whole situation to an irrevocable chaos and that sometimes necessitates an action in advance. True, the videos recorded on the day of Eid might have been uploaded even after the event, but the very moment of celebration demands some amount of forestalling. A timely move (howsoever unpleasant and evidently oppressive) could prevent a major crisis. Suspending the service for a few days did put people to a lot of inconvenience and the Hajj stampede deepened the crisis even further. Kashmiris were frantically concerned about the well-being of their relatives in Makkah.
Moreover the businessmen who need net as oxygen to keep their business links alive too suffered a loss. But to keep a situation from slipping out of control, if a short-time net-gag came in handy, so be it.
But the government has to be evenly punitive against all kinds of provocations. The way a right-wing trident-holding brigade is doing violence to the sentiments of the other community is to be dealt with an equal harshness. One region must not always suffer for the wrongs done by the other. Their action is bound to spawn such reaction. The very idea of beef ban disturbed the whole calm in Kashmir and a responsible government has to fix the responsibility irrespective of their alliance compulsions. That is something dismaying about the present government. In a bid to get closer to their power partners they are losing their own ground. Perhaps to confirm – or reconfirm – their loyalty towards their alliance partners they go an extra mile. The issue is not letting the beef law stay as infructous and let Muslims continue with their practice of beef-eating. The issue is scrapping the law lest it become the source of strife. The real test for the present government lies in protecting a religious sentiment without letting trouble-mongers – from either side – have their day.
Today’s PDP would exhaust themselves condemning yesterday’s National Conference for doing exactly the same what they are finding `unavoidable’ right now. The earlier dispensation might have done it for two days only, this one extended it to the third one too. The former still spared broadband services, but the latter was indiscriminately unsparing.