SAYING THAT internet was just used to watch “dirty films (gandi filmein)” in Jammu and Kashmir, NITI Aayog member V K Saraswat said on Saturday that suspension of services in the region, following the government’s decision to revoke J&K’s special status under Article 370 on August 5 last year, did not have a “significant” effect on the economy.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the annual convocation at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT), where he was the chief guest, Saraswat said: “Yeh jitne politicians wahan jaana chahate hai, woh kisliye jana chahate hai? Woh jaise andolan Delhi ki sadko pe ho raha hai, woh Kashmir mein sadko par lana chahte hai. Aur jo social media hai, woh usko aag ki tarah istamal karta hai. Toh aapko wahan internet na ho toh kya antar padhta hai? Aur waise bhi aap internet mein wahan kya dekhte hai? Kya e-tailing ho raha hai wahan pe? Wahan gaandi filme dekhne ke alaawa kuch nahi karte aap log”. (Why do politicians want to go to there (Kashmir)? They want to re-create the protests happening on the roads of Delhi in Kashmir. And they use social media to fuel these protests. So what difference does it make if there’s no internet there? What do you watch on internet there? What e-tailing is happening there? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing there.)
Asked to clarify, he said: “Main yeh baat bata raha hoon ki internet Kashmir mein agar nahin hai, toh uss se economy pe kuch khaas antar nahi padhta (I am saying that if there is no internet in Kashmir, then it does have a significant effect on the economy).”
Saraswat was responding to a question on why internet services had been suspended in J&K if he thought telecom was key to India’s growth.
“Internet is down in Kashmir, but isn’t internet available in Gujarat? The reason for shutting down internet in Kashmir is different. If Article 370 had to be removed, and if Kashmir had to be taken forward, we know there are elements there which will misuse this kind of information in a manner that will affect the law and order situation,” said Saraswat.
On the ongoing protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Saraswat, who is also the JNU Chancellor, said: “JNU has become a political battleground. It is not an issue of increase of fees from Rs 10 to Rs 300. Everyone was trying to settle scores. I will not name the political parties.” He described JNU as a “left-leaning” institution, saying that “300 of the 600 teachers” belong to the “hardcore leftist group.”
“Closing down JNU is not a solution. We are a democracy and we have to resolve the conflict in a democratic manner. Our government, education department and everyone associated with it — including me — are trying to resolve it in that direction,” he said. “We cannot take such harsh steps. But, in the 1980s, when (former Prime Minister) Indira Gandhi was the Chancellor, JNU was closed for 45 days… for similar reasons, and at that time 800 students were jailed in Tihar,” he added.
He said JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar was doing a “wonderful job”.
On the protests against the new citizenship law, Saraswat said: “Think about the man-hours lost in the agitation and rioting that has been happening since the last three months. How many factories remained shut, traffic came to a standstill, hospitals remained closed, All this contributes to GDP… Work in JNU has been stopped since October last year… the losses are affecting the economy. We are giving people money, but there is no output from them. The government teachers are getting their dues, despite the strike. What is the output… All this affects the economy.”
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