Srinagar, April 28
Two day after government ordered suspension of social media till further orders to curtail protests and restore normalcy in Kashmir valley, cellular companies, including BSNL, are struggling to impose the gag on 22 banned networking sites, including Facebook and Whatsapp.
However, Airtel is the only company which has successfully blocked social media sites though its users allege that they are able to access these sites through virtual private network (VPN).
Meanwhile, Aircel has completely barred the 2G services in the valley, where 3G and 4G services of all cellular companies remained suspended since April 17 in view of an upward spiral of protests by students.
Interestingly, all these 22 banned sites are accessible on BSNL 2G service while only Facebook is barred on broadband of the state run company in the valley. But, a significant number of BSNL broadband users claimed to have updated their Facebook status by using VPN, hence bypassing the curb on the site.
The state Home Department had on April 26 directed all cellular companies, including Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), to block messaging services, besides social networking sites, including Facebook with immediate effect, for a period of one month or till further orders, whichever is earlier. The order said it has been observed that some elements are transmitting objectionable contents to spread disaffection among the public at large in Kashmir against the state administration and the security forces, with a view to incite them to commit various offences at a large scale, cause damage to life and property and disturb peace and tranquility. Social networking sites which were directed to be blocked included Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, WeChat, Ozone, QQ, Google+, Tumblr, Baidu, Viber, Line, Pinterest, Snapchat, Telegram, Skype and Reditt.
The government had invoked the powers conferred on it under Indian Telegraph Act 1885 read with Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules 2007 to ban these sites and applications.