NITI Aayog member V.K. Saraswat said the suspension of Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir did not have any significant impact on the economy, as people there “did nothing other than watching dirty films online.”
He also said that Internet services were suspended in Jammu and Kashmir to prevent certain elements from “misusing” information that could affect law and order situation there.
Mr. Saraswat was speaking to reporters in Gandhinagar on Saturday after attending the convocation of the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology.
“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,” he said.
“If there is no Internet in Kashmir, it does not have any significant effect on the economy,” he added.
Mr. Saraswat said the reason for suspending Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir was to prevent certain elements from misusing information.
“If Article 370 had to be removed, and if Kashmir had to be taken forward, we knew there were elements there which will misuse this kind of information in a manner that will affect the law and order situation,” he said.
Kashmir trade body condemns remarks
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), an apex trade body, condemned Mr. Saraswat’s remarks that the Union Territory’s economy was not significantly affected by the Internet suspension and the data service was only used to watch “dirty films”, and demanded his immediate removal.
Mr. Ashiq said the whole world knows that the Valley is suffering due to the Internet shutdown and the losses to the business sector here have amounted to over ₹18,000 crore in the past six months.
“We at the Chamber know that our economy has been deeply affected by the suspension of Internet services. Every sector of our economy has suffered a great deal. If any person says something like this, it speaks a volume about his mind capacity. He has no right to sit in the NITI Aayog,” he said.
On recent protests in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Mr. Saraswat said the institution has become a “political battleground” with half of the teachers being “hardcore Leftists“.
Mr. Saraswat also said that protests like those against the Citizenship Amendment Act and in JNU affect the economy.
“The losses are affecting the economy. We are giving people money, but there is no output from them. Government teachers are getting their dues despite the strike. What is the output...all this affects the economy,” he said.