Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Police Saturday issued an advertisement in local newspapers, asking people to send screenshots of individuals sharing “inflammatory terror or violence-loaded” posts on social media.
In the advertisement, the police urged people to become “peace-makers”, and even promised a reward if an FIR is registered based on a complaint.
“Any individual shares or forward messages or videos which are fanning terror, violence [or] causing alarm or panic on social media platforms (Facebook, WhatApp, Instagram etc) can be treated to be acting with intent to cause terror and disturbances in law and order situations,” read the advertisement.
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Ad issued days after social media ban was lifted
The advertisement has been issued in the same week as the administration’s decision to lift the ban on social media after nearly eight months. Furthermore, according to the government’s own admission, no major law and order situation has occurred in Jammu and Kashmir since Article 370 was scrapped on 5 August last year.
This move is likely to have been inspired by a similar advertisement issued by the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government. The Delhi government advertisement asked people to send screenshots or videos to Delhi Legislative Assembly’s Committee on Peace and Harmony, after the deadly communal riots in the capital’s northeastern region last month claimed 53 lives.
Internet had been shut down in Jammu and Kashmir as part of the communications blackout enforced in August last year. In January, the ban was lifted partially, with authorities allowing access to 2G internet on mobile phones and only 300 websites.
The white-listing was done to prevent people from accessing social media platforms, even though many in the Valley resorted to the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to navigate the ban. This had prompted authorities to appeal to the people not to use social media or VPNs.
Even though the restrictions on social media websites were lifted this week, the government is yet to restore high-speed internet on mobile phones.
Stronger vigil on the internet
Officials of the J&K Police told ThePrint that with renewed access to social media, there was a need to strengthen their vigil on internet activities.
“In any case, we have been questioning individuals who post inflammatory messages on social media. In some cases, arrests have been made,” said a senior police officer, adding that the latest move of asking people to send screenshots will help the police to have a “panopticon view of the society”.
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