New Delhi: Facing flak over his comment on internet ban in Kashmir, NITI Aayog member Vijay Kumar Saraswat on Sunday asserted that he has been quoted out of context and  and apologised to those hurt by the ‘misquotation’.

“I have been quoted out of context. If this misquotation has hurt the feelings of the people of Kashmir, I apologise and would not like them to carry this impression that I am against the rights of the Kashmiris to have internet access“, news agency ANI quoted the NITI Aayog member as saying.

Earlier on Saturday, Saraswat, a former chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), while speaking at an event in Gandhinagar, Gujarat had  justified internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir, saying that it was being used in the Valley for watching ‘dirty films,’ even as he said that the suspension of services there ‘did not have a significant impact on the economy.’

Clarifying his remark, he had further stated that if there is no internet in Kashmir, it will not have a significant effect on the economy.”

His remarks were strongly condemned by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) – an apex trade body. “We condemn these remarks. They are spreading venom against the people of Kashmir. Nobody gives him the right to speak like this about the people of Jammu and Kashmir and utter this nonsense against us,” news agency PTI had quoted KCCI president Sheikh Ashiq as saying.

Earlier on January 10, the Supreme Court had directed authorities in the Union Territory to restore internet services.

“It is no doubt that freedom of speech is an essential tool in a democratic set up. Freedom of Internet access is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of free speech“, said a three-judge bench comprises of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai, while delivering verdict on a batch of pleas, including that of senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.