Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Sunday, slammed the comments made by the NITI Aayog member VK Saraswat on internet connectivity in J&K and termed it as “troubling”. VK Saraswat in a bizarre comment said that internet service in Jammu and Kashmir was used to watch "gandi filmein" (dirty films). PDP while criticising the comment said that the government should focus on restoring normal life in the valley instead of making such statements.
Really troubling to see an institution like @NITIAayog making such remarks about internet usage in J&K. At a time when the Govt should restore daily life, a govt official is making baseless statements that appear as excuses to prolong the #KashmirLockdown. https://t.co/n8BMUTwIu6— J&K PDP (@jkpdp) January 19, 2020
In a bizarre 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 a 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 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 the internet there? What e-tailing is happening there? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing there,” VK Saraswat said.
After receiving flak for the statement made by him the NITI Aayog senior member, he later apologised for his comments. 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.”
The Principal Secretary of Planning and Development, Jammu and Kashmir, Rohit Kansal, on Saturday briefed the media about the internet and telecom connectivity in the Union Territory of J&K. He made a few major announcements stating that the voice and SMS facilities on prepaid services will be functional throughout the UT. However, the access to internet services will still be limited as the people of J&K will only be able to access 2G data on postpaid sim cards within the 10 districts of Jammu division and two districts of Kashmir division.