Vk Saraswat, a member of the Indian government’s powerful NITI Aayog, has made a sensational claim while justifying the internet ban in Kashmir saying that people in the valley used the internet to watch dirty films. In a video shared by news agency ANI, Saraswat is heard making outrageous claims to justify the Indian government’s decision to ban the internet in Kashmir affecting eight million people.
Saraswat is heard admonishing reporters in Gujarat for asking questions related to the internet ban in Kashmir. He says, “The internet is banned in Kashmir, you have the internet in Gujarat. Why do you have a problem with the internet ban in Kashmir?” He goes on to continue with his rant, “There’s a reason why the internet is banned in Kashmir. If we want to promulgate 370 in Kashmir and we have to bring the state forward, then we know that there elements there who will misuse the internet against India…All these politicians who want to visit there, why dod they want to go there. They want to create the same kind of movement that they’ve created (against Citizenship Amendment Act) on the streets of Delhi.
“They want to use social media to fuel protests. What difference does it make if there’s no internet in Kashmir? What do you watch on the internet there? What e-tailing is happening? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing.”
#WATCH: NITI Aayog’s VK Saraswat says “…They (politicians) use social media to fuel protests. What difference does it make if there’s no internet in Kashmir? What do you watch on internet there? What e-tailing is happening? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing. (18.01) pic.twitter.com/slz9o88oF2
— ANI (@ANI) January 19, 2020
His comments evoked angry reactions on social media with many condemning Saraswat for making derogatory remarks about eight million Kashmiri people. Faced with widespread condemnation, Saraswat issued a clarification saying that his words had been reported without context. He was quoted as saying, “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 Indian government banned the internet in Kashmir on coinciding its decision to abrogate Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August. The Supreme Court had recently ruled that access to the internet was part of citizens’ fundamental rights.