New Delhi: WhatsApp accounts belonging to Kashmiris began expiring this week as the ban on internet services in the Valley, implemented to control law and order situation there in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370, entered its fourth month.

The WhatsApp accounts expired due to a policy of Facebook, which owns the messaging platform. Under the said policy, accounts which have been inactive for 120 days are deleted. The Internet has been banned in the Valley since August 5, when the government announced its abrogation move.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the deletion of Kashmiri WhatsApp accounts was indeed due to the aforementioned policy. “To maintain security and data limit retention, WhatsApp accounts which have been inactive for 120 days are deleted. When this happens, the account automatically exit WhatsApp groups they are part of,” the spokesperson said.”

Several users took to Twitter to share screenshots of their friends or family members staying in Kashmir exiting WhatsApp groups. Kashmiri activist Shehla Rashid, a vocal voice against the abrogation of Article 370 and in controversy recently over her tweets accusing the Indian Army of human rights violations in the Valley, too, took to Twitter, stating that the WhatsApp accounts had been inactive due to no fault of their users.

With its unprecedented move on August 5, the government scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The erstwhile state was also bifurcated into two separate union territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The two new UTs came into existence on October 31. Girish Chandra Murmu became the first-ever Lieutenant Governor (L-G) of Jammu and Kashmir, while RK Mathur took over as maiden L-G of Ladakh.