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Internet a facility, not right, no curbs on political activity: Farooq Khan

Defending the decision to suspend the Internet since August 5, when the Centre withdrew the special status granted to J&K and imposed a communications blockade, Farooq Khan, advisor to Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu said the Internet is just a facility, not a right.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 07, 2019, 09.32 AM IST
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Farooq Khan, advisor to Lieutenant Governor of J&K
There are no curbs on political activity in Kashmir unless it leads to disquiet in society, said Farooq Khan, advisor to Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu. In an interview with Hakeem Irfan Rashid, the former IPS officer said the administration needs to make a few more arrests because the society is yet to be completely sanitised. Defending the decision to suspend the Internet since August 5, when the Centre withdrew the special status granted to J&K and imposed a communications blockade, he said the Internet is just a facility, not a right. Excerpts:

ON INTERNET SHUTDOWN
It is a question of ensuring the major right to life and property here. To ensure that, if you have to stop the Internet it should be done. The Internet is not a right. It is just a facility. It is not a right in the Constitution of India and you will not even find it in the Constitution of the US or UK. The Internet has been misused to a great extent in Kashmir. We opened the (postpaid) cell phone connections and found out that the SMS service is being misused. There are certain elements who want to create trouble and are not happy that nobody has died here (since August 5).

ON ARRESTS
Society hasn’t been sanitised completely. For example, why are grenade attacks still happening? We have to make some more arrests as there are people still indulging in subversive activities and are on our radar. There is no such thing going on that we detain 500 people and release 490 and keep ten. We detain ten people who are in custody for specific reasons. This dynamic process of detentions is part of a misinformation campaign. Arrests are a very well-thought-out process.

ON POLITICAL DETAINEES
There is no constraint on anybody to operate in a political space here. They have created a self-created demon that if they say some something police will come and take them away. There are people who are critical of administration. The number of political activists in detention is very small. There are big leaders who are out and enjoying. Why aren’t they speaking? There is political vacuum and only people with a guilty conscience would be scared. Unless your utterances lead to disquiet in society, we have no problem. They have been asked to give a bond for good behaviour and that doesn’t mean that you cannot do your political activities.

ON HURRIYAT
They are known secessionists and separatists, so we treat them like what they are. We are not shying away from that.

ON FEAR OF DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE
There is fearmongering going on. How many people have come in trucks and trains since August 5 and grabbed land here? You have your land and you reserve the right to sell it to anybody you want. Yes, there was demographic change when some people from secessionist camps with the help of terrorists at the behest of Pakistan pushed out Kashmiri pandits. Is the administration not supposed to ensure that business comes here, so that employment is created for the youth of J&K?

ON MILITANCY
The propaganda machinery from the other side of the border spread this misinformation that terrorism will increase. The day we start looking for these 250 terrorists, they will not even be visible. Right now our priority is to keep things peaceful here.

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