In a statement, the Jammu and Kashmir police said that ‘miscreants’ were using VPNs to propagate rumours and secessionist ideology about the situation in the Kashmir Valley.

Case under UAPA against all those who used VPN to access social media in KashmirRepresentative
news Internet Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 12:50

For the past seven months, Kashmir has been under a lockdown after the union government announced the scrapping of the Constitution's Article 370 and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two Union Territories —  Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. It was only last month that 2G mobile connectivity was restored in five districts of the Jammu region and broadband facilities were provided but only to "all the institutions dealing with essential services" as well as hospitals, banks and hotels.

However, the citizens of the region have still not been able to access social media and other websites, and thus, many have tried to do so using VPNs (a virtual private network). A virtual private network allows users to access a safe, encrypted connection over a less secure network.

A case has now been filed by the police against every person in Kashmir who attempted to access the internet via VPN.

On Monday night, the Jammu and Kashmir police announced that an FIR has been filed under the UAPA and the IT Act against individuals who defied government orders and tried to access social media via VPNs. 

“The FIR has been registered while taking cognizance of the social media posts by the miscreants by use of different VPNs, which are propagating rumors with regard to the current security scenario of the Kashmir valley, propagating secessionist ideology and glorifying terror acts/ terrorists (sic),” a statement issued by the Jammu and Kashmir police reads. 

IGP Kashmir Shri Vijay Kumar has made an appeal to the general public not to use social media via VPN, the statement added.

On Monday, PTI reported that Kewal Sharma, the advisor to the Lt Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, said that internet and connectivity issues in Jammu and Kashmir will be eased further in the coming months.

The statement by the Jammu and Kashmir police said that a case has been registered under Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (advocates, abets, advises or incites the commission of, any unlawful activity, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine), Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and Section 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code) as well as Section 66-A(b) of IT Act (Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquillity).

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