What Life Is Like Inside the World’s Longest Lockdown – By Ahmer Khan and Billy Perrigo

At the start of the year, before the coronavirus hit, the Indian government had been slowly lifting the restrictions on movement and communication that it had imposed in August 2019, when it stripped Kashmir’s long-held constitutional autonomy and imposed direct rule from Delhi.… The Hindu nationalist government in Delhi also cut phone lines and Internet connections.

In late January, after nearly six months cut off from the world, the Kashmir Valley regained access to a list of government-approved sites on 2G Internet.… But soon after the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Kashmir later in March, the region was plunged into lockdown once again, with new rules against movement and social gatherings.

As people around the world have moved their lives online in response to lockdowns, that coping mechanism is virtually impossible in Kashmir because 4G Internet remains cut off… Doctors say the Internet restrictions are having a negative effect on public health, too, as they must rely on slow 2G connections to download the latest medical studies and advice. “Because of COVID-19, everything is about new research,” says one doctor in a district hospital… the repressive measures are a sign that the Indian government’s priorities in Kashmir have not been changed by the pandemic.

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