A day after his controversial remark on internet restrictions in Kashmir, senior NITI Aayog member Vijay Kumar Saraswat has clarified and said that his remarks have been taken out of context.
His remarks and the insensitivity displayed sparked an uproar and he was widely and heavily criticized for the same. In a bid to calm the situation, while speaking to news agency ANI he said that he was being asked a number of questions earlier in the day and when someone asked him on Internet shutdown in Kashmir, his reply had been taken out of context.
He said, "I have been quoted out of context. If this misquotation has hurt the feelings of the people of Kashmir, I apologise and would not like them to carry this impression that I am against the rights of the Kashmiris to have Internet access."
Saraswat is a senior member of the government's think tank, established soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over office in 2014, replacing the erstwhile Planning Commission. He is a prominent scientist and has also been the Scientist to Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister, Director to Director General DRDO and Secretary to Dept of Defence R&D.
On Saturday, whilst speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the annual convocation at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT), he was asked about the communications restrictions in Kashmir, where the Internet is being made available in a phased manner following the curbs that were imposed on August 4. He justified the Internet ban by saying that politicians spread misinformation and that had to be curbed.
In an agitated and angry tone, he said, "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."
On Saturday, the government restored 2G internet service in 12 districts of the Union Territory. The citizens will have access to only 153 websites and that access will be closely monitored.