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Delhi blast: J&K cyber cafe business hits a low

The arrest of three youths from Kishtwar and detention of over a dozen in connection with the email claiming responsibility for the recent blast at the Delhi HC is keeping users away from cyber cafes here.

Updated: Sep 22, 2011, 12:45 PM IST

Kishtwar: The arrest of three youths from Kishtwar and detention of over a dozen in connection with the email claiming responsibility for the recent blast at the Delhi High Court is keeping users away from cyber cafes here and in other towns in the Jammu region, affecting what was otherwise a growing business.

The remote mountain town of Kishtwar, around 230 km northeast of Jammu, had two cyber cafes, frequented largely by young people, but both were closed after a raid on Global Internet Cafe, from which police say the email originated.

"Even if the internet cafes were not closed, I would not have allowed my son to go there," Mohammad Ashraf Bhat told reporters.

His 20-year-old college going son, Zakir, was a frequent visitor to the Global Internet Cafe.

"We need to access internet not only for our studies but also for seeking jobs," said a miffed Zakir, who has to sit at home due to parental apprehensions.

Khwaja Mahmood Aziz, the owner of Global Internet Cafe, refused to talk to reporters, saying: "I am already harassed and shaken. I do not want to say anything."

Aziz, along with his brother and a helper in the cafe, were detained and interrogated by police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for five days. "They still have to go to the police station daily," relative Yasir Aziz said.
The other cyber cafe, Solution World, has been closed since the beginning of September as the owner, Asif Syed Shah, who also provides computer hardware and software consultation, has been out of town.

"I thank my stars for not being open that day," Asif said.

Asif said over the phone that customers in cyber cafes were mostly students and youngsters.

"They surf the Internet for knowledge and employment forms," he said. "Some used it for chatting."

"Information technology is main source of development, especially in remote areas like Kishtwar," Asif said. "But now I cannot say where will we go from here."

Security agencies have laid down many rules for cyber cafe owners, like getting registered with police, installing CCTVs and providing regular footage of CCTVs to the police.

"How is this possible? We charge just Rs.20 per hour from the customers and hardly earn anything for installing all these security devices," Asif remarked. "So it is best that I do not restart this business."

Sumit Sharma had a private internet connection and he used to rent it too. "I will never venture to rent it to anyone now," said an alarmed Sumit.

There are private internet connections with a few in Kishtwar. "But now a brother will not trust his brother," he added.
The Kishtwar experience has had its impact on cyber cafes in other towns like Doda, Rajouri and Poonch.

"My business has fallen by 75 percent since this incident and police too are harassing us in the name of keeping check," said a cyber cafe owner in Rajouri`s main market.

Abid Hussain, Shariq Ahmed and Amir Abbas Dev, all belonging to Kishtwar, were arrested following the Sep 7 blast outside the Delhi High Court in which 15 people were killed. While two of the youths were arrested from Kishtwar itself, a third was nabbed near Chandigarh.