SRINAGAR                  -                  While high-speed inter­net is helping people to guard against coronavi­rus across the world, ban on the service is prevent­ing people from learning or sharing important in­formation about the dis­ease, says a report by Voice of America (VoA).

As many people world over have come to de­pend on high-speed in­ternet to work from home, take part in online classes and get the lat­est news, the residents of the occupied territory remain deprived of these facilities due to the gag on this important means of communication.

Bilal Hussain, a Kash­mir-based reporter, told VoA that the ban on high-speed internet had caused problems for doc­tors and the local media. “We are forced to work on 2G…doctors in Kash­mir are not even able to download material they need for COVID-19,” he said. Reporters can be ar­rested for going against the narrative of the au­thorities, he added.

Senior Kashmiri jour­nalist and political com­mentator, Gowhar Geelani, who was recently booked by the Indian authorities for his news reports and social media posts, said the Indian government’s campaign “has grown very, very ugly”. “The aim seems to be to control the narrative,” he said.

Access Now, a New York-based civic and so­cial organization, told VoA that the lack of high-speed internet during the coronavirus pandem­ic was aiding its spread and gambling with peo­ple’s lives. The rights group has been following events in occupied Kash­mir since last August when India revoked the special status of the ter­ritory and placed it un­der strict lockdown.

Aliya Iftikhar with The Committee to Protect Journalists told the VOA that it appears the Indian government is trying to use the pandemic to dis­tract from what it is do­ing in Kashmir.