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India Shuts Down Social Media in Indian Kashmir to control widening Street protests and growing Violence in the Region

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Kashmiri students browse the internet on their mobile phones as they sits inside a restaurant in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 26, 2017. On Wednesday, authorities ordered internet service providers to block 16 social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, and popular online chat applications for one month "in the interest of maintenance of public order." VOA

Indian authorities hope sweeping restrictions placed on social media in Indian Kashmir will help control widening street protests and growing violence in the region. But observers say the latest order will do little to stem growing alienation in the restive Himalayan region.

Authorities have shut down 22 social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter for a month. The official order asking internet service providers to block the sites said they are being used by “anti-national and subversive elements” for “vitiating peace and tranquility” in the state.

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Kashmir has often faced restrictions on the internet, and even mobile phone services have been shut at times. But the latest clampdown is much wider in its scope and comes as social media begins to play a larger role in an increasingly volatile situation in India’s only Muslim-majority region.

Viral videos

In the past three weeks, graphic videos claiming to show abuses by security forces have gone viral. The one getting the most attention shows a young man strapped to the front of an army jeep and paraded around villages in the region.

School and college students have emerged on the streets for the first time to join mobs throwing stones at security forces, and earlier this month, eight people were killed in a violence-marred parliamentary election.

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Officials say social media is not just being used to spread images, but also to rally crowds that attack security forces. A police officer in Kashmir, who did not want to be quoted, said the order will help check the spread of rumors.

Adding to the anger

However banning social media will do little to address the rising tide of anti-India sentiment, said Shujaat Bukhari, editor of the Rising Kashmir newspaper in Srinagar.

“If there is so much of anger, it actually adds to that anger, it does not help to recede (quell) that anger,” he said.

Pointing to the presence of students in street protests, he said, “Every section of society has now got involved into that churning where people think that they don’t have any allegiance to India, and they don’t like the country.”

Kashmiri students and other protesters throw stones at an Indian police vehicle as they clash with police in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 24, 2017.
Kashmiri students and other protesters throw stones at an Indian police vehicle as they clash with police in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 24, 2017. VOA

More than a decade of relative peace began deteriorating last summer in Kashmir after security forces killed local militant leader Burhan Wani. Analysts say this summer promises to be no different.

Colleges and schools in Kashmir have been shut for more than a week as India tries to quell the near daily protests.

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On Thursday, three Indian soldiers died and five others were injured in a pre-dawn attack on an army camp by militants in Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Two militants were also killed.

Delhi takes a hard line

Earlier this week, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, visited New Delhi and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open dialogue to contain the deteriorating situation in the state. She told reporters he wanted to hold talks after the situation normalizes.

Analysts say the Hindu nationalist federal government appears to be taking a hard line against the protesters.

Bukhari said the problem in Kashmir is larger than a social media problem.

“It is a political problem,” he said, “and as long as you continue to remain in denial mode like this and do not do anything political, these measures will not get you anywhere.” (VOA)

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Indians Always on Social Media While on Vacations, Reveals New Survey

Social media is emerging as strong driving force in creating vacation happiness with Indians being number one in always taking selfies

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The new survey reveals Indians top the list of tourists glued to their phones while on vacation.(Representative image) Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 15, 2017 : Indians top ahead of Thailand and Mexico when it comes to using social media while holidaying, says a survey conducted by Expedia.

Indians love to be connected all the time, however, it also means that they do not disconnect from work much.

Indians are globally most anxious on not being able to access WiFi or internet to check work e-mail (59 per cent). In fact they lead in showing a preference for an airline that offers in-flight WiFi (33 per cent). Hence, 14 per cent Indians are always working on a vacation, #1 globally, followed by the US (seven per cent) and Brazil (six per cent).

ALSO READ India tops the list of fatalities caused by selfies

Social media is emerging as strong driving force in creating vacation happiness with Indians being number one in always taking selfies (22 per cent), posting photos on social media (22 per cent), “checking in” on social media (21 per cent) and connecting with others through social media (19 per cent), said the Expedia survey.

The survey included 15,363 respondents, across 17 countries (US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, India and Thailand)

The survey also highlighted that even though Indians are social media obsessed beach-goers who spend the majority of their time uploading pictures and video, 24 per cent of their compatriots find it very annoying, said the statement. (IANS)

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Haryana Police Summons 45 Dera Sacha Sauda Committee Members Accused of Plotting Violence Following Conviction of Dera Chief

Dera Sacha Sauda followers had indulged in large-scale violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after the CBI court on August 25 convicted the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape

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Dera Sacha Sauda followers had indulged in large-scale violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after the CBI court on August 25 convicted the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape. IANS

Chandigarh, October 6, 2017 : Haryana police have issued summons to 45 members of a committee of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect to appear before it regarding the violence that erupted following the rape conviction of the Dera chief on August 25, police sources said on Friday.

Police sources said a hard disk, which reportedly contains details of transactions worth Rs 700 crore, including property and hawala deals, of the Dera has been recovered and sent for detailed examination.

The 45-member committee, which included the Dera’s headquarters campus (near Sirsa) chairman Vipassana and vice chairman P.R. Nain, is being accused of planning the violence in Panchkula and other places that left at least 38 people dead and 264 injured.

Dera Sacha Sauda followers had indulged in large-scale violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after the CBI court on August 25 convicted the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape.

The Haryana Police had last month issued a list of 43 ‘Most Wanted’ people of the sect, including top functionaries Honeypreet Insan and Aditya Insan, who are the closest aides of Ram Rahim, for their role in the violence.

Honeypreet was arrested from neighbouring Punjab on Tuesday after being fugitive for 38 days. She was booked for sedition and inciting violence.

The disgraced sect chief, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, is now lodged in the District Jail in Sunaria near Rohtak. (IANS)

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BBC Expands Indian Operations with Four Additional Regional Languages ; Indian Network now Biggest Outside UK

The Indian operation has now become the biggest outside the UK

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BBC news services are available online and on social media. IANS

New Delhi, October 4, 2017 : In its largest expansion drive since the 1940s, the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) has launched four news services in India in Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi and Telugu languages.

The new services are available online and on social media, with a Telugu TV bulletin, BBC Prapancham, starting on Wednesday, the news provider said in a statement.

BBC News already broadcasts to 28 million people in India in Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu and English.

Director of BBC World Services group, Francesca Unsworth, told reporters on Wednesday that the i.

“Our values will remain the same with the new channels, which is to inform, educate and entertain… We do not want to be restricted to Delhi-centric, capital-based reporting and will bring out the stories of rural India,” she said. (IANS)