Final Paper Rough Draft 1

Well-done! Just add some images to support your text and you’re good.

 

Freedom is a concept so vital to living a happy life that our own nation was created by defying the British monarchy that ruled over the colonies on this continent. So many people fought and died for our right to live freely and upon their victory, we became the “land of the free.” Despite this, we are not the only country to grant protection of the constituents’ freedom. The great majority of the world has, by now, become “free” in that the people elect those who would rule them. However, India is just one example of far too many that this doesn’t always turn out as well as it’s supposed to. Although India’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression, law enforcement officials in Kashmir shut down internet services in local areas to conceal information on the killing of three militants along with several non-combatants and inhibit communication between outraged civilians who were protesting the killings.

To begin with, the Kashmiri police tried to conceal information about the casualties to stop the spread of misinformation that would aggravate the situation. Just like the famous Telephone Game, if one person tells their friends that they saw the police were shooting at people, they might tell someone else that the police shot those people and things would spiral out of control until eventually you have someone proclaiming that the cops are murdering innocents indiscriminately. Thus, law enforcement officials decided to conceal the death and injury of civilians in this incident for the time being to prevent angry protestors from accidentally escalating the situation into full-blown riots. While this is a commonly employed tactic, it only works if you can actually conceal the information and furthermore is technically illegal under the Indian Constitution – which protects information exchange by granting freedom of expression (Vijayakumar and Vijayakumar). Although some were left without internet, many others still managed to get online and tell all who would listen about what they’d just witnessed. In fact, Mirwaiz Omar – the chairman of the separatist group Hurriyat Conference – tweeted a call to action for a march on a military camp in defiance of law enforcement (Reuters 1). Consequently, the authorities attempted the exact same tactic of information concealment, but on a grander scale: train services and mobile services were suspended in the entire Kashmiri Valley.

Moreover, Indian authorities seem to understand that controlling media is key in controlling what the people think and do. The day after Mirwaiz Omar’s tweet, they issued a statement urging the people to “not to fall prey to such designs of anti-national forces. The Indian Army is always with the people of Kashmir and would foil all such evil attempts of terrorist-separatist-Pakistan nexus to pit the civilian population against the security forces,” (Ehsan). Here, they call the separatists evil and “anti-national” to appeal to the audience’s sense of pathos. By issuing this statement as a warning “not to fall prey,” they also play on the audience’s sense of pride and seek to implant the idea of gratitude towards the government for helping them avoid this “trap.” In doing this and restricting internet access, they demonstrate an understanding of McLuhan’s ideas surrounding the concept of the medium being just as important as the message itself. Citizens of Kashmir could still call their friends to talk one-to-one, but in removing access to the internet law enforcement officials prevented mass sharing of ideas by people with an angry mob mentality. Along with the unofficial curfew enforced on the valley, this restriction likely prevented the previously threatened march that may have turned into a riot – what with tensions so high.

Also, Indian legislature places restrictions on the Internet but is lacking in regulations that would provide accountability. The IT Act has “[a] complete absence of checks and balances for the powers given to authorities like Computer Emergency Response Team India (cERT-I),” (Saeshu 2). Such rules further paint a picture of a government that wants dominion over the most popular medium for information exchange. The citizens have noticed this as well and the Indian government is aware of their unrest. One has to wonder if the government truly is in the right when the constituents that it’s meant to protect throw stones at law enforcement to defend separatist militants (Slater and Naseem).

To conclude, Kashmiri police restricted internet services in areas surrounding the shooting that killed three separatist militants and many civilians to temporarily conceal information on the casualties and prevent further civil unrest. However, the chairman of these separatist forces used this as an opportunity to try and rally support through twitter. This incident is simply one example of how the media is used to sway the minds of the public. What does this mean on a global scale? Because the Kashmiri law enforcement was acting with the backing of the Indian government, it sets a precedent for law enforcement infringing on the constituents’ right to communicate freely if they think it will prevent the spread of civil unrest – which is a very vague condition. By that logic, the police can shut down the internet in the area where someone’s having a block party at night. In limiting the flow of information they also handicap not just what we know, but also how we know what we know.

Bibliography

Ehsan, Mir. “Kashmir protests: Army asks people not to march towards Srinagar HQ on Monday.” Hindustan Times 16 December 2018: 1-3. Internet. 9 March 2019. <https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kashmir-protests-army-asks-people-not-to-march-towards-srinagar-hq-on-monday/story-lG3idjzTjGWGKOSYbZlGFN.html&gt;.

Fareed, Rifat. “Protests in Kashmir after civilian shot dead by Indian troops.” Al Jazeera 27 September 2018: 1. Internet. 9 March 2019. <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/anti-india-protests-clashes-kashmir-shepherd-killed-180927075436034.html&gt;.

Rao, Nagesh. “India cracks down as Kashmir demands freedom.” GreenLeft Weekly 2 September 2016: 14. Internet.

Reuters. “Seven Civilians Killed as Indian Police.” The New York Times 15 December 2018: 1-2. Web. 9 March 2019. <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/15/world/asia/india-kashmir-protest.html&gt;.

Saeshu, Geeta. “Poor Guarantee of Online Freedom in India.” Economic and Political Weekly (2012): 14-16. Internet. 9 March 2019. <https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/stable/23214889?seq=3#metadata_info_tab_contents&gt;.

Slater, Joanna and Ishfaq Naseem. “2018 is the deadliest year in a decade in Kashmir. Next year could be worse.” The Washington Post 23 December 2018: 1-3. Internet. 9 March 2019. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/2018-is-the-deadliest-year-in-a-decade-in-kashmir-next-year-could-be-worse/2018/12/22/493ff2e4-03bb-11e9-958c-0a601226ff6b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.30e8a04ea603&gt;.

Vijayakumar, JK and Manju Vijayakumar. “Right to Information and Freedom of Expression.” Vijayakumar, JK and Manju Vijayakumar. Information, Communication, Library and Community Development. Festschrift Volume for Prof. C P Vashist. New Delhi: B R Publishing, 2004. 1-6. Text. 9 March 2019.

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