In a bizzare remark that has invited both ridicule and concern, a senior NITI Aayog member said that internet service in Jammu and Kashmir was used watch "gandi filmein" (dirty films) and the suspension of connectivity for over five months "did not have significant effect on the (J&K's) economy". VK Saraswat was speaking on the sidelines of the annual convocation at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT) on Saturday.
“Why do politicians want to go to there (Kashmir)? They want to re-create the protests happening on the roads of Delhi in Kashmir. And they use social media to fuel these protests. So what difference does it make if there’s no internet there? What do you watch on internet there? What e-tailing is happening there? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing there,” VK Saraswat said.
However, the NITI Aayog member quickly clarified his remark stating, "I am saying that if there is no internet in Kashmir, then it does not have a significant effect on the economy." Although this does not seem to help his case. According to an estimate released by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), businesses in the valley have suffered losses worth Rs 18,000 crore since August 5 last year. That was the day, the Centre snapped all wired and wireless communication channels. Sectors like tourism, horticulture and agriculture (Kashmir's main economic activities) have been the worst hit.
VK Saraswat cited the revocation of Artcle 370 as reason for snapping internet. “If Article 370 had to be removed, and if Kashmir had to be taken forward, we know there are elements there which will misuse this kind of information in a manner that will affect the law and order situation.”
VK Saraswat, a scientist who formerly served as the Director General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), made the comments on the same day authorities in J&K ordered the restoration of prepaid mobile services in the Valley. It also directed restoration of 2G mobile data service on postpaid connections to access 153 "whitelisted" sites across the Jammu division, an official spokesperson said.