18/02/2020 11:58 AM IST

J&K Police Slap UAPA, Scrapped 66A Of IT Act On Social Media Users Defying Govt's Ban

The police said that social media was being "misused" by miscreants in Kashmir to "spread rumours".

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A Kashmiri journalist holds her laptop and a placard during the protest against the continuous ban on internet following the abrogation of Article 370 by the government of India.

The Jammu and Kashmir police have slapped the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on those in Kashmir using proxy servers to use social media in the erstwhile state. 

The J&K police, in a press release, said, “Taking serious note of misuse of social media, the Cyber Police Station Kashmir Zone Srinagar has registered a case FIR against various social media users who defied the government orders and misused the social media platforms.” 

It has been over six months since mobile and broadband internet services were shut down in light of the scrapping of Article 370. 

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Under the UAPA, a person can be kept in custody by the police without producing any evidence against them. 

The Indian Express reported that the FIR came after many social media users uploaded a video of an ailing Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani. 

“There have been continuous reports of misuse of social media sites by the miscreants to propagate the secessionist ideology and to promote unlawful activities. Social media has remained a favourite tool which largely provides anonymity to the user and also gives wide reach,” the police said in the statement. 

The police said that the FIR was filed while taking into cognizance posts “by the miscreants by use of different VPNs, which are propagating rumors with regard to the current security scenario of the Kashmir valley”. 

While Kashmir has been reeling under the shutdown which has now gone on for over six months, the Narendra Modi government has maintained everything was “normal” in Kashmir. 

The internet shutdown in the Kashmir is the longest seen in any democracy. 

The police have registered the FIR under Sections 13 of UAPA, 188, 505 of IPC and 66-A (b) of IT Act. 

However, section 66A of the IT Act, 2000 had been struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015. Huffpost India had earlier reported that people continue to be arrested after being booked under this particular section of the IT Act. While senior policemen claimed that such the arrests are a consequence of a lack of training, the continued detentions illustrate how citizens are being deprived of their freedom without any legal mandate.