Kashmir’s Internet Siege


Kashmir’s Internet Siege presents an overview of the “harms, costs and consequences” of the government-sanctioned internet shutdowns and network disruptions in Jammu and Kashmir. It was published by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a network of organisations – such as Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons and Public Commission on Human Rights – working on human rights advocacy and research.

The report presents data from August 2019 up to its publication in August 2020. On August 5, 2019, the Parliament of India abrogated Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gave Jammu and Kashmir a semi-autonomous special status and its own Constitution. Since then, the numerous government-imposed network and internet restrictions have made it difficult for the region’s residents to access crucial information.

This report views internet access as essential to human rights. It discusses the impact of digital restrictions on livelihood, health, education, justice, press freedom – and more. The report also includes excerpts from conversations with residents to present qualitative insights into the everyday impacts of the ‘digital siege’.

This 85-page report is divided into eight chapters: Background (chapter 1); Right to Livelihood (chapter 2); Right to Health (chapter 3); Right to Education (chapter 4); Access to Justice (chapter 5); Freedom of Press (chapter 6); Right to Social Life (chapter 7); Timeline: 300 Days (chapter 8).


  1. A total of 11.44 million telecommunications subscribers (including phone and internet users) and 6.6 million internet subscribers were recorded in undivided Jammu and Kashmir – according to 2019 data published by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

  2. Citing data published by Turkish news organisation Anadolu Agency in February 2020, the report states that Kashmir’s telecom sector recorded a loss of 1.4 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2020.

  3. The report notes that India tops the world in internet shutdowns and Jammu and Kashmir accounts for about two-thirds (63 per cent) of the total shutdowns in the country both in terms of frequency and duration. Since the year 2012, there have been as many as 226 documented internet shutdowns in the region.

  4. Jammu and Kashmir experienced severe economic consequences due to the prolonged internet shutdown in August 2019, with various businesses suffering losses. As per data by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, more than 500,000 people lost their jobs in the five months after the shutdown.

  5. At several medical diagnostic facilities, the digital shutdowns prevented technical equipment from getting the frequent maintenance and software updates required. The report mentions the Bone & Joint Hospital in Srinagar, where the MRI machine experienced frequent glitches without the necessary updates.

  6. The report cites a 2016 report on mental health in Kashmir, stating that 45 per cent of Kashmir’s total population – 1.8 million people – showed signs of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorders.

  7. In August 2020, when this report was published, the mobile internet speed in Kashmir was restricted to 2G internet (250 kbps). The report cites a paper by Prateek Waghre – researcher at Takshashila Institution, a Bengaluru-based public policy research organisation – comparing the effects of 2G and 4G internet speeds. The paper finds that it takes 1,595 seconds to download the Aarogya Setu app from a 2G network, whereas it takes only 145 seconds to download it using a 4G network.

  8. In the World Press Freedom Index, 2020, published annually by Reporters Without Borders, Paris, India fell from the 140th place in 2019 to the 142nd place in 2020. According to the report, RSF stated that “India’s score in this year’s World Press Freedom Index is heavily affected by the situation in Kashmir where, after rescinding the state’s autonomy, the federal government shut down fixed line and mobile Internet connections completely for several months, making it virtually impossible for journalists to cover what was happening in what has become a vast open prison.”

  9. The report states that online editions of most local dailies remained suspended after internet services were halted in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019. Columnists, editors and freelancers working for online portals of various newspapers, were unable to find alternate work. As per the Anadolu Agency, the English-language daily Kashmir Reader was banned for its work for three months in the year 2016, and it failed to receive any advertisements for as long as February 2020.

  10. As per the Software Freedom and Law Centre, a digital advocacy organisation based in New Delhi, the digital shutdown enforced on August 5, 2019, was the 55th time the internet in Kashmir had been suspended in the year 2019. 

  11. The report discusses the drastic effects of the SMS ban in Kashmir on multiple sectors, citing an article published in the Economic Times in December 2019. It notes that people were forced to travel out of Kashmir, or register on online portals with phone numbers of relatives residing outside the region, to submit important forms like applications for driver’s license, jobs and education.

    Focus and Factoids by Shafia Shaan.


Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Srinagar


Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Srinagar


Aug, 2020