NITI Aayog member VK Saraswat. (Photo Credit: Twitter/ANI)
NITI Aayog VK Saraswat on Sunday apologised following criticism after he justified the ban of Internet in Jammu and Kashmir, saying the shut down after the abrogation of Article 370 did not have any significant impact on the economy, as people there did nothing other than watching "dirty films" online.
"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 said.
#WATCH: NITI Aayog's VK Saraswat says "...They (politicians) use social media to fuel protests. What difference does it make if there’s no internet in Kashmir? What do you watch on internet there? What e-tailing is happening? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing. (18.01) pic.twitter.com/slz9o88oF2— ANI (@ANI) January 19, 2020
"If there is no internet in Kashmir, it does not have any significant effect on the economy," he added.
His statement was widely condemned by people of different sections.
Later, Saraswat said he was quoted out of context, and extended his apology if statement had hurt anyone in Kashmir.
“I have been quoted out of context. If this misquotation has hurt the feelings of the people of Kashmir, I apologise and would not like them to carry this impression that I am against the rights of the Kashmiris to have internet access,” news agency ANI quoted him as saying.
Saraswat 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.
Saraswat was speaking to reporters in Gandhinagar on Saturday after attending the convocation of the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology. Saraswat said the reason for suspending internet services in Jammu and Kashmir was to prevent certain elements from misusing information.
"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.
On recent protests in Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Saraswat said the institution has become a "political battleground" with half of the teachers being "hardcore Leftists".
He called for the issues there to be resolved "democratically". Saraswat also said that protests like those against the Citizenship Amendment Act and in JNU affect the economy.