Govt faces flak for social media gag on employees It reflects nervousness, desperation of authorities. Mirwaiz

The government’s gag on use of social media by its employees has received severe criticism from the employees bodies, opposition parties and separatists.
Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) President Abdul Qayoom Wani said the ban is against the fundamental rights of a citizen.
“We have decided to move court against the diktat. We will first discuss the issue at the organizational level and then move the court,” Wani told Rising Kashmir.
The government on Tuesday issued guidelines to regulate the usage of social media by employees and ordered them to refrain from using social media accounts for any political activity and posting of inflammatory content.
Opposition National Conference (NC) cautioned the PDP-BJP government against portraying lakhs of hard-working employees as “terrorists and anti-social elements to cover its own utter and complete failure on both the governance and the political front”
The party spokesman said the social media diktat issued by the Government is an “obnoxious, tyrannical and unacceptable” insult to employees and depicts the “regressive mindset of the Mehbooba Mufti-led government.”
He said the government employees have rendered exemplary services in the face of great adversity and constitute the backbone of the government system.
“They have risked their lives in the thick of political turmoil to ensure essential services are not interrupted and have behaved with utmost responsibility and dignity,” the spokesman said.
He said rather than defaming lakhs of government employees, PDP should introspect and acknowledge its role in eroding the neutrality of institutions at the policy level.
The State Congress described the ban a direct attack on freedom of expression.
“It is the new anti-people directive of the PDP-BJP government,” a Congress spokesman said.
He said government should withdraw the notification barring employees from using social media.
“On one hand the government is claiming that situation has improved considerable in Valley and on the other hand people are not being allowed to express their freedom of expression and freedom of speech,” added the spokesman.
CPI (M) State secretary and MLA Kulgam, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami said the gag order exposes the dictatorial and regressive mindset of the coalition BJP-PDP government.
“At a time when the government is claiming remarkable success in bringing the state back on the tracks, restricting the use of social media not only belies its tall claims but also the negative potential to further alienate a substantial proportion of the masses,” he said.
Tarigami demanded that government must reconsider its decision and withdraw the gag order in order to avoid unrest in the ranks of its employees.
The separatist leaders have also criticized the gag order.
Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, termed the ban on use of social media by employees or their family members as despotic that reflects the nervousness and desperation of the authorities.
He said the state employees are an educated lot and important opinion makers of the Kashmiri society and choking their voice by issuing dictatorial gags is another form of “state repression” and the victims this time are the state employees.
“Barring employees, who are a part and parcel of the society from raising their concern regarding the situation and the issues facing the people and their views on social networking sites can’t help the government to hide its failures,” Mirwaiz said.
JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik termed the social media gag a “dictatorial order” saying suppressing use of social media by government employees resembles to that of “North Korean dictatorship”.
“The politicians, who once used to make hue and cry on human rights violations and propagated healing touch and battle of ideas, have turned Kashmir into a military dictatorship where every voice of dissent is being suppressed by military might,” he said.
Terming the gag order “as a direct attack on the freedom of speech”, Malik alleged that fascist regime led by Mehbooba Mufti is setting new records of authoritarianism in the name of democracy.”
However, ruling PDP general secretary Nizamuddin Bhat said as a journalist, he acknowledges that social media has a role.
“But throughout the world, it is misused and there are no checks on individuals who try to get very low than making it a tool to serve,” he said.
“I am sure any restriction is reasonable as long as it can prevent abuse, individual indulging in bias and malign game,” Bhat said.
He said there are always reasonable restrictions.
“No right is absolute. Even freedom of right to speech and expression is not absolute,” added Bhat.