Bengaluru: The lifting of curbs on social media in Jammu and Kashmir and the release of Farooq Abdullah are two major decisions that have been taken. It only goes on to show that the administration has become more confident that peace and order will be maintained in the Valley, post the abrogation of Article 370.

Both decisions were taken after a thorough review by the security agencies who have been keeping a watch in the Valley. However, the decision to lift the ban on social media was a bolder one when compared to the release of Abdullah.

Why the ban was necessary:

The problem in Kashmir is that it had become a free for all. Funerals of terrorists had become assembly points to create trouble and pelt stones at security forces. Social media was used extensively to spread the message about the death of a terrorist.

Officials tell MyNation that in no time large crowds would assemble and then enter into a tussle with the security forces. What was worse was that the social media was also used to rope in crowds during an ongoing encounter. Not only did the security forces have to deal with the terrorists, but also with the crowds which would pelt stones when the encounter was on. Messages were being spread more on social media than word of mouth to bring in groups of people.

The separatists had used social media heavily to create a false narrative against the Indian security agencies. Messages about the martyrdom of the terrorists would be posted and this would agitate the people.

Stone-pelters vanish:

The situation today has been brought largely under control. The ban on social media immediately after the abrogation of Article 370 helped a great deal in maintaining law and order. Today during an encounter, there are no crowds. Moreover, during the funerals of these terrorists, people have stopped gathering. One witnesses only the family members of the slain terrorist.

Thanks to the ban on social media, Pakistan too was unable to operate its handles in Kashmir inciting the locals. On March 4, the decision to lift curbs on social media was taken. There have been two encounters since, and the security forces were able to get the better of the terrorists. There were no crowds during an encounter and funerals as well. This is an indicator that security agencies have managed to get a grip on the situation. More importantly these encounters have taken place in South Kashmir, which has for long been the hub of terrorist activities.

Close monitoring:

While the security forces are on high alert at all times on the ground, there is an equal emphasis that has been given to social media. Officials are keeping a close watch on all accounts that post provocative content. It is all being reported in real time now, and whenever anything provocative appears, it is taken down immediately.

The security agencies say that the social media works both ways. While the ban for a longer period of time was needed, the restoration of it is equally important. Social media also has its advantages as it helps the agencies monitor all anti-national acts being carried out on these platforms.

When the administration assessed the situation before lifting the curbs, it was found that the people too are no longer interested in coming out on the streets and fighting the security forces. Further, during the assessment it was found that there are just around 200 terrorists on the ground. The encounters too have become fewer and the year 2020 until March has seen the killing of 23 terrorists. In 2019, the number of terrorists killed was 152 and the year before that the number stood at 257, the highest since 2012.

The release of Abdullah:

On Friday, the administration decided to release former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah.  The order said that in exercise of the powers under section 19 (1) of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, the government hereby revokes the detention order dated September 15, 2019 issued by the District Magistrate, extended for a period of three months and then extended further for a period of three months of Dr Farooq Abdullah. The order said that this would come into place with immediate effect.

Abdullah is one of the biggest leaders in J&K. He was under detention as it was reported that he was trying to incite the crowds. However, with his release, the government has shown that it wants to also restore the political process in Jammy and Kashmir. The detention of Abdullah had come in for criticism, but in the interest of peace, the government took this decision post the abrogation of Article 370. The official cited above says that security is not a joke. It is the people on the ground who are best aware of what is to be done in such situations. The opposition tried to pressure the government, but there is a time for everything, and our assessments is what has to be taken into consideration in such situations, he also said.