Published: Wed, January 15, 2020
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Broadband, mobile internet partially restored in Jammu and Kashmir

Broadband, mobile internet partially restored in Jammu and Kashmir

Tuesday's order directed the internet service providers (ISPs) in the Kashmir Valley to provide limited broadband facility to essential services, such as hospitals, banks and government offices, and hotels and tour and travel establishments.

It also asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review within a week all orders imposing curbs in the Union Territory.

In Kashmir, however, the ban on both mobile internet and broadband services for ordinary citizens, would continue, though the administration said it would open 400 more internet kiosks where the public could go in case of urgent need.

2G mobile connectivity on postpaid mobiles for accessing white listed websites such as e-banking will be allowed in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi districts, the government spokesperson said.

However, users there too, as per the order, will only be able to access "white-listed" sites such as e-banking services and government websites.

However, quoting the official announcement, ND TV news said that social networking sites, however, would remain under complete restriction.

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After last week's Supreme Court judgment ruling indefinite internet shutdowns in India illegal, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have ordered a partial restoration of connectivity today.

The SC had declared that freedom of speech and expression and also freedom of of trade and commerce through the medium of internet are constitutionally protected rights under Articles 19 (1)(a) and Articles 19 (1)(g), respectively.

The move came five months after the Modi government scrapped the "special status" to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and threw the state (now bifurcated into two Union territories) into an abyss with a communication lockdown.

The order, issued by Principal Secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra late on Tuesday, however, did not restore mobile internet services for the Kashmir division. The authorities have continued to describe the restrictions as a pre-emptive measure to prevent misuse of data services by anti-national elements which has the potential to cause large-scale violence and disturb public order. There is no mention of the services being restored to media organisations or to the general public in the Valley.

The order will be effective from January 15 and remain in force for 7 days, unless modified earlier.

Mentioning the Supreme Court's verdict last week, the order says the fresh directions were issued after "taking into account the ground situation and considering the available alternative measures, in light of the reports of the authorised officers, subject to a detailed review that is being undertaken..." Therefore, the present order can not be described as one issued in furtherance of the SC direction, as the same is an "original order" issued by the Principal Secretary in exercise of powers under Section 5 (2) of the Telegraph Act and Rule 2 (1) of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services Rules 2017.

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