One of the first steps that are usually employed by the government when protests break out in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, is to impose a ban on internet services and social media to safeguard the state from the violence that may follow from the spreading of rumours on such platforms.
And this step has been used at regular intervals since violent protests broke out in the valley following the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani's death last year. With the latest ban on social media being put in place on April 26 of this year.
But for all its intents and purposes, the ban seems to have very little effect on those in the state, and especially those in power.
With the tweets posted by the youth wing president Waheed-ur-Rehman Para, of the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), about her meeting with a group of young entrepreneurs highlighting this.
But irony runs deep in the state when it comes to this issue, as was clearly seen when reacting to Para's tweet, the spokesperson for the National Conference, the main opposition party in the state, Junaid Mattu, retweeted his tweet and added, "Hasn't the CM banned Twitter in Kashmir? Isn't your tweet the irony of ironies."
Mattu seemed to have forgotten that he was performing the same action as Para, who he was being critical of. And instead of feeling odd when the irony of his actions was pointed out to him, he blamed the state government for not ensuring the effectiveness of the ban and circumventing it themselves.
"It's not only hypocritical but the outright evil of a government to have laws and then circumvent them as per convenience. It's tragic and goes on to show how they have lost the plot in Kashmir," he is reported to have responded.
But while the leaders were seen to have found their way around the ban, such actions are an open secret in Kashmir, as many turn to a technique using Virtual Private Network to access and use blocked sites.
The network helps users hide their location, allowing them to visit websites which have been banned in particular areas. And this is the reason that Facebook and Twitter posts continue to flow from the valley.
The ruling party has continued to promote the works and welfare activities of its leaders, especially the chief minister, and her verified Facebook page is also updated regularly by administrators based in Srinagar , while the opposition too is active on the social media with the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah regularly posting his views on the situation in Kashmir.
And this activity is equally prevalent among ministers, officials including top bureaucrats and police officials.
With a leading national newspaper quoting sources to report that at a recently held meeting, officials were discussing alternatives to circumvent the ban since of the commonly used VPN had stopped functioning.
This is not at all surprising if the way the ban is flouted is looked at. Following the recent reports of the chief minister being heckled by women at an event, her party had requested the media to check out videos of the event which were posted on Twitter by rural development minister Abdul Haq Khan, in order to show that nothing of the sort had occurred.