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As government opens up internet, distressed Kashmiri YouTubers breathe a sigh of relief

Last Updated on February 17, 2021 at 1:17 pm

Kashmir’s YouTubers who temporarily lost their jobs because of internet restrictions after August 5, 2019, have started to post their content on the platform easily as government rolled back their restrictions.

Kashmiri Kalkharabs

It has now been around a week since the J&K administration restored 4G mobile Internet after 18 months. YouTubers based in Kashmir like ‘Kashmiri Kalkharabs’ (Kashmiri quirks) with 7.2 lakh subscribers have started to put content online again without having to face much problem.

Yawar Ahmad, 20, whose five-member team started the ‘Kashmiri Kalkharabs’ channel in 2017, said that the restrictions on 4G Internet dashed their dreams. He suffered through depression for three months. To upload a 2 GB on a 2G Internet connection when it was restored last year was a tiresome job. It would take days to upload videos.

Yawar is a student from Sumbal’s Maloora area. He told The Hindu that when he saw the number of subscribers to his channel falling with each passing day, his ultimate dream to become an actor seemed unreachable.

He said that his channel lost more than 1 lakh subscribers in just eight months and once consistently growing number of views came to standstill. He said that his cousin, who is married with kids, was solely dependent on the channel to feed his family. He and his team were living in utter frustration.

Before internet restrictions, Yawar and his five YouTube channel partners were earning between ₹10,000 to ₹15,000 each. Coming from humble background, they were able to meet their ends with this income.

Yawar said that his team used to upload five to six videos per month before August 5, but that came down to zero. More than 100 YouTubers in Kashmir, mainly from modest backgrounds, earn a living by uploading comedic content on YouTube.

Another YouTuber by name of Mudasir Farooq is a video editor by profession. He runs an YouTube channel ‘Koshur Kalakar’ from Baramulla’s volatile Sopore. He said that his channel got 60,000 subscribers in just two months in 2018. He planned to have around 5 lakh subscribers by 2021. But internet restrictions caused him to lose around 40% of his total subscribers along with the revenue.

In order to keep the channel going, he planned to move out of Kashmir. When he uploaded a video in August 2019, it got less than 1,000 views even though the channel had 1.84 lakh subscribers. It was very disturbing and discouraging for him.