Mysterious Case of Kashmiris 'Disappearing' From WhatsApp Not So Mysterious After All

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WhatsApp application - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): It has now been 120 days since internet services were suspended in Jammu and Kashmir after New Delhi abolished the state's special constitutional status.

In what initially appeared to be a mysterious case, several Kashmiris living outside of the region, found people disappearing from the instant messaging app WhatsApp.

Knowing that residents of the state have been enduring an internet shutdown for four months now, Kashmiri natives living abroad took to Twitter to share screenshots of their WhatsApp contacts exiting groups on the app.

​In the wake of the disappearances, people also urged WhatsApp to consider the situation in Kashmir before deleting inactive accounts from the region.

​But netizens later realised that according to the platform policies of Facebook-owned- WhatsApp, inactive accounts can be subjected to suspension if the accounts remain unused for over 120 days.

The instant messaging app, that has a user base of 400 million people in India addressed the subject and said it "deeply cares" about its users.

"To maintain security and limit data retention, WhatsApp accounts generally expire after 120 days of inactivity. When that happens, those accounts automatically exit all their WhatsApp groups. People will need to be re-added to groups upon regaining access to the Internet and joining WhatsApp again," said a WhatsApp spokesperson.

On 5 August, India announced the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution that granted special autonomy to the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is controlled by India.

The special autonomy allowed the state's legislature to make its own laws. It also banned people from outside the state from getting state government positions.

Earlier in November, internet service providers in Kashmir restored the internet to over 100 businesses including hotels, travel agents, IT companies and some business organisations; as well as police and some government offices, however, internet access in the disputed valley remains limited. 

Kashmir is a Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan. Both nations claim the entire region as their own territory and have fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining their independence from British rule in the 1940s.

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