Facebook, Twitter, other social media banned in Kashmir

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Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp among apps temporarily banned by authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Local rebel leaders had called for a boycott of the vote, which was held to fill a vacant seat after a member of parliament resigned to protest against the killing of civilians during a sweeping security crackdown last year.

Voter turnout was 6.5 percent in the by-election, 26 percent lower than in the last elections held in 2014 and the lowest ever participation recorded in any election in the disputed territory, according to Shantmanu, the state’s chief electoral officer.

“Eighty-five percent of my work depends on the internet,” Taha Mughal, an architect, said. “So all I’ve been doing is practically moving from one place to another on foot – the old-fashioned way – to do the 15 percent. It’s like I’m in the 1930s.”

Surge in violence

Kashmir witnessed deadly protests after a well-known separatist commander, Burhan Wani, was killed last year.

The violence has killed at least 84 civilians and wounded more than 12,000 civilians and security force personnel.

Neighbours India and Pakistan claim divided Kashmir in full, but govern separate parts. Two of the three wars they have fought since independence from Britain in 1947 have been over Kashmir.

Last September, tension escalated as armed men killed 19 Indian soldiers at an army camp in Kashmir, an attack India blamed on Pakistan-based fighters.

India accuses Pakistan of backing separatist fighters in the Himalayan region, a charge Pakistan denies.

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