Not against rights of Kashmiris to have internet access: NITI Aayog's VK Saraswat clarifies after sparking controversy

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Jan 19, 2020, 07.01 PM(IST)

File photo: NITI Aayog's VK Saraswat. Photograph:( ANI )

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"What do you watch on the internet there? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing," Saraswat had said on Saturday. 

After facing backlash over his comments on internet services in Jammu and Kashmir, NITI Aayog member VK Saraswat issued an apology on Sunday and said that his remark had been misquoted. 

"I have been quoted out of context. If this misquotation has hurt the feelings of the people of Kashmir, I apologise," he said today. 

Saraswat on Saturday had said that snapping of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir does not make any difference. "What do you watch on the internet there? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing," he had said. 

Saraswat's was slammed on social media with many asking for an apology. 

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"...They (politicians) use social media to fuel protests. What difference does it make if there’s no internet in Kashmir? What do you watch on the internet there? What e-tailing is happening? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing," he had said. 

Saraswat today clarified that he does not want anyone to think that he is against the rights of the people of Kashmir to have access to the internet. 

Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal on Saturday said that voice and SMS services on all local prepaid SIM cards shall be restored across Jammu and Kashmir, news agency ANI reported. 

"2G mobile data on postpaid mobile for accessing white-listed websites shall be allowed in all 10 districts of Jammu and Kupwara, Bandipora in Kashmir division. Mobile internet shall remain suspended in Budgam, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Srinagar, Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama," Kansal told media today during a press conference. 

Telecom services were snapped in Jammu and Kashmir last year in August after the abrogation of Article 370. 

Earlier this week, restrictions on the internet services in parts of Jammu and Kashmir were lifted in five districts.

Access to the internet was said to be granted to institutions catering to duties and websites of the government such as the banking firms.

The move came after the Supreme Court, earlier this month, directed the administration to review within a week all telecom restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir.