Kashmir blocks social media but VPN breaks through

Kashmir censorship

Kashmir the disputed region between India and Pakistan became the latest country to crack down on social media.

A total of more than 22 social media sites were blocked last week including popular sites Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Messaging apps Whatsapp, Snapchat, video streaming site Youtube and a host of other popular social media sites also found themselves blocked.

In the dragnet popular Chinese apps largely unknown and unused in Kashmir such as QQ, Baidu and Xanga also became inaccessible across the region. The likely reason being that authorities wanted to clamp down on any possible way of communication or efforts to circumvent the blocks of popular well-known apps by using lesser known ones.

The block has been largely unsuccessful, as while social media is blocked across the region many users quickly turned to technical measures to evade the block, namely using VPN services.

VPN?

A VPN is a system that allows users to disguise what they’re doing via their internet connection on either a desktop, tablet or mobile using what is known as encryption and send it to a location outside the affected geographical area thus bypassing any censorship.

Using a VPN means that the authorities in Kashmir are not aware of what users are accessing with the result being social media again becomes accessible.

Public clashes

The social media ban came into force after clashes between civilians and security forces and in an effort to stop more civilians mobilising themselves via social media a month long ban was introduced.

The Indian-administrated region of Kashmir blamed Pakistani groups for the violence in an attempt the validate the reason for the blocks, although commentators suggest this is purely propaganda.

While it is likely true that social media and messaging systems are used by a few who are intent on causing violence and distress across the country it is the thousands of everyday Kashmiri’s who are now inconvenienced and caught up in the blockade.

Regional VPN

Ordinary Kashmiri residents have been turning to VPN providers such as IPVanish who have VPN servers in the region in India and Kyrgyzstan that give the best possible speeds while allowing access to all social media sites, video streaming and messaging apps.

Other providers such as VyprVPN and ExpressVPN have also seen an increase in signups from across the region.

With all VPN providers offering both mobile apps and software for desktop and laptop computers it is extremely easy for Kashmiri citizens to evade the recent social media crackdown and with just one or two clicks be accessing the blocked sites as usual.

Local newspaper the Hindustan Times said of the ban of the “utter uselessness” of it due to the number of users now aware of VPN services and the way in which to bypass the blocks.

Kashmiri citizens are now advised to sign up to one of the many VPN services available such as those listed in our VPN Comparison Guide to bypass current and future blocks and access a free and open internet.

Christopher Seward

Author: Christopher Seward

After 25 years of using the internet, Christopher launched one of the very first VPN comparison websites in 2013. An expert in the field his reviews, testing and knowledge have helped thousands of users get the correct VPN for their needs.

Comments

  1. Avatar Wanda McDonald

    Seems at least one provider (Jio) has now somehow blocked VPN from connecting on LTE. It just stays at connecting and never connects. Up till last night I could connect to Opera VPN. Tried Express VPN today and can connect to VPN on broadband wifi but not on LTE. Any suggestions for bypassing this while on LTE and away from home? I rely on Skype to stay in contact with my family in Canada and Skype is one that is blocked. Calling direct is out of the question as I am not rich! My Mother doesn’t have internet so we rely on phone conversations to stay in touch and she is hugely worried right now! I know some people change ports for VPN to fix this but not sure how to do on iOS or if it’s possible….

    • Avatar VPNCompare

      Did you take a look in the settings area on the ExpressVPN iOS app?

      You should change the VPN protocol from UDP to TCP if the option is available. As far as I’m aware you can’t change port on the iOS app from ExpressVPN. Please let me know if this helps.

      OperaVPN is the worst VPN to use in Kashmir, one because it’s free and hundreds of thousands of others will be using the same service so it’s easy for the authorities to block.

      • Avatar Wanda McDonald

        Apparently they are actively blocking VPN on mobile networks. I even tried TOR with bridges as well. Now looking for an SSTP VPN for iOS … know of any??? Apparently SSTP will bypass blocks? I can find SSTP for android and every other platform but no luck with iOS yet.

        • Avatar VPNCompare

          I don’t think SSTP is compatible with iOS.

          Did you try changing the protocol from UDP to TCP on ExpressVPN?

          • Avatar Wanda McDonald

            Yes didn’t work. But I found an alternative that doesn’t use PPTP or L2TP on iOS – don’t want to share exactly which service I’m using for obvious reasons… want to stay off the task force radar. It’s a paid one though. I think they are using OpenVPN maybe? And their app allows manually changing of port which I had to do to find a good one…. so it seems they are shutting down known ports for VPN as well as specific servers for the popular ones.
            But I’m up and running for now.

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