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Srinagar: The Ladakh administration has directed administrators of WhatsApp groups to register themselves with local police stations. 

Administrators have been asked to furnish their particulars and passport-size photos to police.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the administration said social media was being used “as a means of instigation” through texts and audio/video clips that “create an ambiance of hatred and fear among people”.

In a separate statement issued by police in Kargil, administrators have been asked to register themselves “within two days”.

The direction comes days after mobile internet services, snapped ahead of the scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A on 5 August, were restored in Kargil. It was restored in Leh earlier. 

Since the internet ban in Ladakh was lifted, sources in the authorities said, there had been a spike in the creation of WhatAapp groups, which are yet to be registered. 


Also Read: Internet not fully restored, but J&K Police to connect with people on social media


‘It’s the norm’

Speaking to ThePrint, a senior police officer said the practice of registering WhatsApp groups predated the bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir state into the union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. 

The process of registration, the officer added, had only slowed down on account of the internet ban.

“The practice… of registering WhatsApp groups in local police stations is a norm everywhere. We noticed that there were some WhatsApp groups that have recently come up and are not registered, some of which are being used to provoke passions,” the officer said. 

However, several residents said the directive came after the authorities noticed an effort within the student community to mobilise for a demonstration meant to raise the issue of protection of land and jobs for local Ladakhis.

“Since the scrapping of Article 370 and 35A (which gave special privileges to the state and its residents), there have been concerns among people of both union territories regarding outsiders seeking jobs and land in J&K and Ladakh,” said one of the residents. 

“Over the last few days, audio messages circulated among the student community have exhorted people to raise their voice for the protection of land and jobs for local Ladakhis,” the resident added.

Even as Kashmir remains under an internet lockdown, broadband services in Jammu and Ladakh were restored much earlier.


Also Read: With Art 370, BJP hoped to win Kashmir but is now losing Jammu: ‘Are we also anti-national?’


 

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