“I am a trader with shops in Dhaka and I buy various goods from Kolkata and send it there every week. I am solely dependent on WhatsApp to know what they need. But with the ban, I am handicapped and it is affecting my work,” said Saiful Raheman, a businessman.
Others said their social and family life was being affected.
“My husband works for an Indian company and has to stay in Bangladesh for weeks at a time. We feel very helpless as communication has become a hassle,” Nirupa Roy said.
The ban has been in place for two weeks after the country’s apex court upheld the death sentences of Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, convicted of war crimes during the independence struggle against Pakistan in 1971.
Chowdhury and Mujahid were subsequently hanged more than two weeks ago at the high security Dhaka Central Jail.
Chowdhury was a member of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the most senior leader from the party to be sentenced for crimes against humanity. Two years ago, the tribunal found him guilty of nine out of 23 charges including genocide, arson and persecuting people on religious and political grounds. Mujahid was the secretary-general of Jamaat-e-Islami.
Bangladeshi authorities are unwilling to comment on when the ban may be lifted. “The services will be reinstated the moment the government feels it’s safe,” Shahjahan Mahmoud, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, told a news channel.
“The shutdown was aimed at stopping opposition parties organising rallies in the run-up to the executions, amid anger over what rights group have called flawed and unfair war crimes trials. They became a popular way of mobilising large numbers of activists for antigovernment protests,” Mahmoud said.
The blockade apart from severely affecting cross-border trade is also affecting business within the country especially among tech savvy entrepreneurs.
“We are into production of leather bags and others items. Most of my orders come after people select designs on my facebook page. Since the blockade, orders have stopped,” Mohammad Sorabuddin, a business in Dhaka.
This is not the first time the country has blocked social media. in 2013, similar measures were undertaken by the government in fear of unrest.
Source: Gulf News