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Broadband internet to be partially restored in Kashmir today, ban on social media stays

The Jammu and Kashmir administration also announced the restoration of 2G mobile connectivity in five districts of the Jammu region from Wednesday.

SNS | New Delhi |


Broadband internet will be partially restored for institutions in Kashmir Valley after more than five months of blackout.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday evening allowed partial restoration of broadband internet for institutions in Kashmir Valley after more than five months of blackout.

The administration announced that 2G mobile connectivity will be restored in five districts of the Jammu region from Wednesday, while broadband facilities will be provided to “all the institutions dealing with essential services” as well as hospitals, banks and hotels among others. However, in the other districts of the UT of J-K, mobile internet connectivity shall remain suspended till further directions.

2G mobile connectivity on post-paid mobiles for accessing white-listed websites including e-banking will be allowed in districts of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi — all in the Jammu region.

The order comes into effect from today and shall remain in force for seven days, the government communication said.

However, users will not be able to access any social media sites and messaging services, said an order issued by Principal Secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra.

The three-page order also said that the 844 e-terminals set up in the Kashmir Valley for the general public, students, etc, besides 69 special counters for tourists, apart from separate terminals for filing of GST returns and application forms for various examinations, as well as internet access to government offices and hospitals would continue, and the Divisional Administration will set up an additional 400 internet kiosks.

The Home Department order, which cited the Supreme Court’s verdict last week on the internet shutdown directing a review of all orders suspending internet services, said that the new directions came 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…”

While delivering the verdict on unprecedented lockdown in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the apex court had on January 10 said that all orders of suspension of telecom services and those related to Section 144 of CrPC must be reviewed by the concerned authority within seven days. It added that all future orders must be reviewed in a timely manner.

The court observed that the use of Internet enjoys constitutional protection as a tool, which is under the ambit of freedom of speech and expression and also enables people to carry on with their respective profession.

It said the suspension of internet indefinitely was “unconstitutional”.

The apex court orders come as a setback for the Centre that has been garnering support for its move in the Valley.

On November 21, last year, the Centre had justified restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and said that due to the preventive steps taken, neither a single life was lost nor a single bullet fired.

At the beginning of the year, broadband internet services were restored in 80 government hospitals and nursing homes in Kashmir.

Mobile Internet services were restored in Kargil district of Ladakh last in December after remaining suspended for 145 days. The services were restored in view of complete normalcy returning to Kargil, with no untoward incident taking place over the past four months.

Meanwhile, SMS services in Kashmir valley were also restored from December 31 midnight nearly after five months of suspension.

After the abrogation of Article 370, giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir, on August 5, a complete blockade on communication was imposed in the Valley.