The Jammu and Kashmir administration cited “fake news” involving the Supreme Court that was allegedly being spread in the Union Territory to argue against the lifting of Internet restrictions in its submissions to the top court on Wednesday.
In perhaps the first such official acknowledgment, it also talked about the rise of two new “Pakistan-based” militant outfits—The Resistance Front (TRF) and Tehreeki-Milat-i-Islami (TMI)—that were allegedly using messaging apps to “instigate the youth”.
In an affidavit filed in response to petitions by NGO Foundation for Media Professionals, Shaleen Kabra, the Principal Secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir Home Department, referred to “a fake order purporting to be a Record of Proceeding” of the Supreme Court dated April 9, 2020.
In the order, it has been “falsely reflected that administration of Union Territory of J&K has been ordered to take a quick review within 24 hours to restore full Internet communication in the region”, the administration said.
It added that an FIR under sections 465 (forgery), 466 (forgery of court record) and 471 (using forged document as genuine) of the IPC was filed in this regard at the Cyber Police Station, Kashmir Zone.
The Union Territory also submitted that “cross-border terrorism and violent activities carried out by terror outfits like JeM, LeT, HM, operating with the external support are too well known” and that “new outfits are being launched, like TRF and TMI, instigating the youth to join terrorism and there has been a spurt in terror activities in the last fortnight”.
“The terror modules operating within the UTs and handlers from across the border aid and incite people by transmission of fake news and targeted messages through use of Internet…,” the administration said.
Defending the decision to cap Internet speed at 2G, it added that “Pakistan-based terrorism handlers like TRF and TMI, instigating youth to join terrorism, are using messaging applications to communicate as also to raise the morale of terrorists; however 2G mobile data services considerably restrict the use of such applications”.
Pointing to instances of fake news creating a law-and-order scare, the administration said there were rumours relating to COVID-19 deaths, the health of Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and “circulation on social media particularly in WhatsApp groups showing PoK flag atop Clock Tower, Lal Chowk, Srinagar”.
The affidavit added that “religious preachers from Pakistan had urged people via social media to recite Azan in Masjids during midnight and on viewing this video, people across the valley recited Azan in different Masjids, which created panic and law-and-order situation…”
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