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  • For 30 years, Occupied Kashmir is fighting for its independence in which at least 50,000 people have been killed.

    For 30 years, Occupied Kashmir is fighting for its independence in which at least 50,000 people have been killed. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 February 2020

Police said the action is carried out against those who “misused social media sites” for propagating "secessionist ideology and promoting unlawful activities."

Indian authorities in occupied Kashmir and Jammu said Tuesday they filed a police complaint (FIR) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against social media users, accusing them of defying government orders and misusing social media platforms.

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The police said the action is carried out against people who “misused social media sites” for propagating "secessionist ideology and promoting unlawful activities."

"Taking a serious note of misuse of social media, there have been continuous reports of misuse of social media sites by the miscreants to propagate the secessionist ideology and to promote unlawful activities," the police said in a statement.

Since New Delhi revoked on Aug. 5 the special status of Kashmir and Jammu by removing a constitutional provision that prevented non-Kashmiris to purchase any property in the Muslim-majority state, Indian authorities imposed a complete ban on the use of any kind of social media platform in the disputed region.

The restrictions have been lifted partially and low-speed 2G internet was restored in January, but the ban on social media continued. 

Kashmiris have been resorting to virtual private networks (VPNs) to access blacklisted sites, particularly Facebook and Twitter. But the open FIR has triggered panic among many users, as a person arrested under the UAPA can be jailed for months without bail.

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After revoking the constitutional special status of Kashmir and Jammu, the far-right Indian government divided the region into two union territories, meaning they will be ruled by the federal government while losing statehood. 

These amendments in the constitution resulted in protests to which the government deployed troops numbering in tens of thousands in the troubled region to implement Section 144, which does not allow more than four persons to assemble. Hundreds of local politicians, lawyers, and activists still remain in detention.

The constitutional provisions revoked were the bedrock of the treaty of accession from 1947 through which Jammu and Kashmir's ruler acceded his region to Indian territory.

For 30 years, Occupied Kashmir is fighting for its independence in which at least 50,000 people have been killed. Critics say the decision to revoke autonomy will cause further alienation and fuel the armed resistance.

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