The internet in Kashmir is dead. India pulled the plug on internet services several weeks ago in an effort to control protests and strikes in the beleaguered area. Initially only social media such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, were shut down by the Indian authorities, but as the country spiraled down into further chaos the administration in New Delhi decided to cut off internet access completely. Technology experts warn that state-sanctioned internet bans will only inflame the passions of extremists on both sides of the issue in Kashmir, and that without normal internet access there is a good chance that rogue internet providers will move in to take advantage of the situation.
Kashmir is located in northwestern India, where the border with Pakistan has always been both porous and disputed. When the country was partitioned back in 1947 hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Muslims battled for supremacy in the area, with horrific civilian casualties. Today the area is still a hotbed of both Muslim and Hindu extremists, and is still a bone of contention between Pakistan and India — both of which now possess a nuclear arsenal and have indicated in the past that it could be used to settle the Kashmir dispute once and for all.
News reports out of Kashmir are currently heavily censored, but reports are leaking out that pharmacies in the area are running out of basic medicines because they can’t reorder online. Government employees are not being paid, since they salaries are automatically deposited in banks via the internet. The power grid, which has always been shaky even at the best of times, is now becoming so undependable that most towns and villages are plunged into darkness for several hours each night and during the day factories are finding it difficult to meet production quotas because of blackouts. Food is becoming scarce, and since the police are not being paid because of the internet blockade there are fears they will become radicalized and refuse to maintain law and order.