ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Censorship for Counter-insurgency

Dilemmas for Citizenship in Kashmir

The logic backing surveillance of the media and internet on grounds of their potential to cause unrest and violence is flawed. India's preference for an authoritarian policy in Kashmir with regard to media and more recently social media surveillance and control is counterproductive to its own long-term goals of integrating Kashmiris as willing partners in a democracy premised on the promise of discursive participation and equal citizenship.

The popular agitations in Tunisia in December 2010 that subsequently spread across the Arab world brought to the fore many contested discussions on the role of social media in inspiring change, channelising discontent and dissent, organising “revolutions” or “riots” (depending on who is commenting), and, in the process, creating ground for freer political spaces. Countries like Tunisia and Libya, for instance, witnessed an upsurge in internet freedoms as the result of a political opening that was itself credited in some measure to mobilisation over new media.

Around the same time, however, India was listed by Freedom on the Net 2012 (FOTN) (Kelly et al 2012), a study conducted by a US-based think tank and research group, in a group of 20 countries marked out for regressive changes in internet legislation and usage. Of the 47 countries examined by FOTN, 20 experienced negative changes in internet laws and usage in the period under study (January 2011-May 2012).1 Only four of these 20 offending countries are electoral democracies and, unhappily, India was among them.2

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