No, Electricity Has Not Been Free For Kashmiris Since Independence! Viral Posts Are False

Image Credit: Pixabay, Twitter

The Logical Indian Crew

No, Electricity Has Not Been Free For Kashmiris Since Independence! Viral Posts Are False

We found from media reports and documents of J&K governmental agencies that electricity has not been provided free of charge to residents of Kashmir. Residents of Kashmir are required to pay tariff charges for electricity as per the terms of the Jammu and Kashmir Electricity Act, 1971.

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A claim that Kashmiris were able to avail electricity free of cost is, viral across social media. The claim has gone viral in the context of protests in some areas of Kashmir against installing electric meters.

On Monday, 27th June, media outlets reported that the installation of Smart Meters triggered protests at Rajbagh locality in Srinagar. As officials from Power Development Department arrived to install smart meters in the area, several locals staged protests, breaking several Smart Meters and shouting slogans against PDD.

Claim:

The viral posts claim that Kashmiris have been using electricity free of cost for the past 70 years, since India's independence. Some viral posts are portraying this claim from a communal angle, targeting the Muslim community in Kashmir.

The viral claim is being widely circulated across Twitter and Facebook. The claim reads as follows, "People in Kashmir will have to pay electricity bills! Yes, from independence till now Kashmiris used to get free electricity"

A Twitter user claims, "In Srinagar, Khatoons threw the electricity meters from the vehicle which went to install the meters and slammed it on the road. These people have gotten into the habit of using electricity, water and other civic amenities free of cost for the last 70 years. No one pays electricity bills in Kashmir. The country is there to suffer for Kashmir." In the post, Khatoons is used as a derogatory term to refer to someone from the Muslim community.

The claim is viral across Twitter and Facebook.

We also received messages on our WhatsApp fact check no. +91-6364000343 requesting to fact-check the claim.


Fact Check:

The Logical Indian fact check team verified the claim and found it to be false. Electricity has not been provided free of charge to residents of Kashmir.

We conducted a keyword search with relevant keywords such as 'electricity bills Kashmir'. This led us to reports by media outlets such as Rising Kashmir and Kashmir Observer.

On April 14, 2022, a report was published in Rising Kashmir with the title, 'Consumers shocked over inflated electricity bills in Srinagar outskirts'. In the report, consumers in areas such as Rawalpora, Sanatnagar, and Rangreth complained that they had received exorbitant bills for March 2022.

Image Credit: Rising Kashmir

On April 25, 2022, Kashmir Observer published a report titled, 'Power Shortage In Ramazan Fuels Anger In Kashmir'. In the report, residents of Srinagar and Baramulla marched on the streets to protest against what they deemed as the Power Development Department's failure in providing proper electricity supply during Ramazan.

The protestors mentioned that they paid electricity bills but had to struggle through the month of Ramazan by lighting candles in the absence of electricity.

Image Credit: Kashmir Observer

We conducted another keyword search and came across this article published by Greater Kashmir on 21 August 2021. The report mentioned that the members of Shehar-e-Khas Welfare Forum (SKWF) in Baramulla's old town staged a protest against the Power Development Department for issuing "inflated" electricity bills to the residents of the area. The protestors alleged the following:

Image Credit: Great Kashmir.com

Regarding the viral video which was circulated by some users along with the 'free electricity' claim, we used InVid's Keyframe Analysis tool to isolate the keyframes of the video. We then conducted a reverse image search on one of the keyframes.

This led us to a report by Greater Kashmir published on 27 May 2022, where residents protested against the installation of smart meters in the Rajbagh locality of Srinagar. The thumbnail of the report is a snapshot from the viral video.

Image Credit: Great Kashmir.com

The report mentions quotes by the protesting residents, saying that they are poor and would not be able to afford bills generated by the Smart Meters. The report mentions that the residents are averse to being charged with hefty bills as they lack the resources to pay them. These reports are contrary to the claims made by the users claiming that Kashmiris were able to avail electricity free of charge.

Image Credit: Great Kashmir.com

We then conducted a keyword search to ascertain the history of electricity charges in Kashmir. We came across the About Us page on the Jammu Kashmir Power Development Department website. This page documented the extensive history of electricity in Kashmir and how tariff charges have been applied in the state since Independence.

We also came across this document detailing the Jammu and Kashmir Electricity Act, 1971. The Act has a separate section dedicated to the methods of charging residents of Kashmir for using electricity.

Image Credit: JKarchives.com

We then conducted a keyword search for identifying the recent tariff charges in Kashmir. On the official website of Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited, the organisation that supplies electricity to the Valley, the following charges were listed. We came across tariffs dating back to 2007-08 listed as follows.

Image Credit: KPDCL

We also came across tariff details for 2016-17 attached below.

Image Credit: KPDCL

We also came across reports that mentioned that power tariffs were set to be hiked in Jammu and Kashmir. These reports were published by The Tribune and The Statesman published on May 9, 2022.

The reports mention that the Jammu Power Distribution Corporation Limited (JPDCL) charges Rs 1.69 per unit up to 100 units, and Rs 2.20 for 101 to 200 units. JPDCL charges Rs 3.30 for 201 to 400 units and Rs 3.52 per unit for more than 400 units. The power agency has proposed to charge Rs 2 per unit up to 200 units per month, and Rs 4 per unit for 201 to 400 units per month. JPDCL plans to charge Rs 5 per unit for more than 400 units per month. These reports and documents by J&K governmental agencies indicate that electricity has not been provided free of charge to residents of Kashmir.

Image Credit: The Statesman

We then conducted another keyword search to investigate why this claim has spread across social media. Upon conducting a keyword search with relevant keywords such as 'Kashmir free electricity', we came across the following reports by media outlets such as Kashmir Life and right-wing website OpIndia.

Image Credit: Kashmir Life


Image Credit: OpIndia

The headlines of these reports indicate that access to electricity has been provided free of charge in Kashmir, leading to the claims spreading across social media.

We went through the speech by the Lieutenant Governor of J&K Manoj Sinha. After going through his speech, we found that the LG states that the electricity supply would no longer be available for those not willing to pay their bills.

However, in his speech, he did not mention Kashmiris specifically but rather addressed those who do not pay their bills. In the speech, he did not mention that Kashmiris can avail free electricity either.

Conclusion:

The viral posts claim that Kashmiris have been using electricity free of cost for the past 70 years, since India's independence. Some viral posts are portraying this claim from a communal angle, targeting the Muslim community in Kashmir.

However, in our Fact Check, we found that media reports and documents by J&K governmental agencies indicate that electricity has not been provided free of charge to residents of Kashmir. Residents of Kashmir are required to pay tariff charges for electricity as per the terms of the Jammu and Kashmir Electricity Act, 1971.

We also found that a statement by Lieutenant Governor of J&K Manoj Sinha was circulated in a misleading manner by media outlets. This led to the circulation of misleading statements across social media. Thus, we are able to ascertain that the claim that Kashmiris have been using electricity free of cost is false.

If you have any news that you believe needs to be fact-checked, please email us at factcheck@thelogicalindian.com or WhatsApp at 6364000343.

Also Read: Did Delhi AAP Govt Carry Out A Rs 1,256 Crore Hospital Scam? No, Claims By Bjp Leaders Are Misleading!


Contributors Suggest Correction
Writer : Jakir Hassan
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Editor : Bharat Nayak
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Creatives : Jakir Hassan