Government workers in  Kashmir have decried a government ban prohibiting them and their families from expressing political opinions on social networking sites.

Under a new order issued on Tuesday 26 December, Jammu and Kashmir government employees were barred from engaging in “criminal, dishonest, immoral or disgraceful conduct on social media which may be prejudicial to government”.

The region’s half a million staff were also warned against taking part in political discussions or criticising the government’s policies.

“Employees should be aware that the law enforcement agencies will observe content and information made available by them on the social media,” the government order reads.

“They should use their best judgment in posting material that is neither inappropriate nor harmful to the state.”

Violators risk being hit by a number of legal punishments, including disciplinary action, early retirement, demotion and even termination of service.

Abdul Qayoom Wani, head of the Employees Joint Action Committee, the largest association of government employees in the region, called the order an “attack on freedom of expression” and demanded its “immediate removal”.