Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government has ordered that WhatsApp groups running “news” should be registered, in what is seen as a knee-jerk reaction to the violence that happened in the state over the last few days.
“The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Dr. Asgar Hassan Samoon, directed the operators of social media news agencies to obtain proper permission from the concerned Deputy Commissioners for posting news on social media news groups, along with sources”, said a government press release on Monday.
It is not clear how the government would differentiate “news groups” from informal WhatsApp groups. The Mehbooba Mufti government would probably be the first in the country to issue a registration certificate to run a WhatsApp group.
The statement warned the government will act against those who do not comply. The move comes after the Handwara incident in which five people were killed in clashes with security forces over the alleged molestation of a girl.
The decision of muzzling social media is nothing new in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2010, the Omar Abdullah government banned content from local cable channels for ‘fomenting trouble’ by running ‘unverified’ news reports. But the new government has gone a step further with this order.
This news on close monitoring of social media activity took netizens by surprise, with many ridiculing the move as ‘curfew on social media’.