Rashid Paul

Curbs on Internet forces closure of on-line biz ventures in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Feb 20: Decimated under the diabolic weight of the record-breaking Internet blockade, Kashmir’s digital marketing entrepreneurs see no chance for their ventures in low-speed Internet and crackdown on online channel usage including social media.

Danish Nabi, 25, started his digital Bizzverts Adds enterprise in 2018 at Tengpora, a city suburb. After a meticulously made out plan, he soon succeeded in entering into business contract with a fair number of top-scale manufacturing companies and service providers in Kashmir.

His Bizzverts Adds used most of the online channels including emails, mobile apps, WhatsApp, facebook, twitter and even search engine websites to reach to more and more viewers.

“By July 2019 my digital marketing company had accessed almost every individual and household using digital platforms like the smart phones.  It virtually flooded them with the images of the commercial products and services of the companies we had the business tie-ups with,” said Danish.

The response was overwhelming especially through social media as people in Kashmir are much savvy about new technologies, he said.

Danish hired the services of two graphic designers, a content writer, and a technical person who ran the ads at the back-end.

“I had also a video production team who would produce the video advertisements. But post-August 05, when Government of India J&K’s special status and put it under a long communication blockade, my business venture collapsed under its heavy spell,” said Danish.

During the six-months-long communication shutdown in Kashmir, Bizzverts has lost its viewership as well as the wide range of its clientele, said Danish.

“In the absence of the Internet it was impossible to bear the establishment expenditures estimating Rs 1.40 lakh a month. There was no option but to close the venture this January,” he said.

Danish’s technical team has left Kashmir in search of livelihood outside the region.

Asked why he did not apply for an Internet lease line after signing an undertaking to not allow misuse of the facility, Danish said, “We could have opted for leased line to start again but our audience is the general people who are still unable to access the Internet”.

Unless an entire spectrum of population doesn’t have the access to high-speed Internet and are permitted to use social media, digital marketing cannot be operated, the struggling entrepreneur said.

On the restoration of 2G Internet he termed it a crude joke. People are not able to download their mail contents under its slow speed.

Digital marketing needs high speed Internet and uninhibited social media application for promotion of the products, he said.

“This new marketing communication means is now a closed story in Kashmir. The new norms by the government where people are acted against for using social media networks are horrific,” said 24-year-old Iqra, a former editor at A R Communications, an advertisement agency in the city.

Iqra was laid off in the wake of the communication blockade which crushed most of the businesses in Kashmir.

“Options for a respectable living are being closed in Kashmir. We are being pushed to the wall,” she said.

After a five-and-half months’ blockade, the government restored limited low speed mobile Internet in Kashmir by January-end. Users have been allowed access only to 400 to 700 sites, mostly official and pro-government sites on the World Wide Web.

According to websitehostingrating.com there are 1.74 billion websites operating on the Internet.

Two hundred people were booked under Unlawful Activities Act by police this week for allegedly posting political content on the social media.

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