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Ahmedabad/Srinagar: NITI Aayog member V K Saraswat has courted controversy with his remarks that shutdown of Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 did not have any significant effect on its economy as people there only use Internet for “watching dirty films”.
The comments defending the suspension of Internet in J-K drew strong reaction from trade body Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) which demanded his immediate removal for uttering “this nonsense”, while CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury also hit out at Saraswat, saying he needs to read the Indian Constitution.
Saraswat made the controversial remarks in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar on Saturday. “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 told reporters on a query about suspension of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir over five months ago following abrogation of its special status. “If there is no internet in Kashmir, it does not have any significant effect on the economy,” he said.
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. “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.
Condemning Saraswat’s remarks, KCCI president Sheikh Ashiq said it is unbecoming of a person entrusted with serious responsibilities to make such statements that “malign the population of Kashmir”.
Ashiq said the Valley is suffering due to the internet shutdown and the losses to the business sector here have amounted to over Rs 18,000 crore. “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.
“We condemn these remarks. They are spreading venom against the people of Kashmir. Nobody gives him the right to speak like this about the people of Jammu and Kashmir and utter this nonsense against us,” he told PTI. (PTI)