The Jammu and Kashmir administration has extended the 2G mobile data service and fixed-line internet connectivity wherever provided across the union territory till February 24, an official spokesperson said on Sunday.
However, the internet service providers (ISP) have been given directions to ensure access to 1,485 white-listed sites only and not to any social media applications allowing peer-to-peer communication and virtual private network (VPN) applications, he said.
“The directions shall be effective from February 16 and remain in force till February 24, unless modified earlier,” he said quoting an order issued by the Home Department.
This comes after the 25 foreign envoys’ visit to Jammu and Kashmir earlier this week which was the government’s attempt at showcasing the “normalcy” in the valley. According to a report by The Indian Express, French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain who was part of the visit said on Saturday that while the authorities were making “significant efforts” to “normalise the situation”, the remaining restrictions should be removed “as soon as possible”.
The 2G internet facility on mobile phones was restored in Jammu and Kashmir on January 25 after remaining suspended since August 5 last year after the centre announced abrogation of Article 370 provisions and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into union territories Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
“Whereas, reports have been received from the intelligence and law enforcement agencies inter-alia bringing out the manner in which social media sites are being accessed through the virtual private network (VPN) applications, for coordinating terror activities as well as to upload provocative material aimed at disturbing the public order.
“It has also been reported that attempts have been made to disturb the public peace by spreading rumours to incite the general public over the last week which necessitated temporary suspension of the mobile data services for limited period of time by the authorised officers,” read the order issued by Principal Secretary, Home Department, Shaleen Kabra.
With regard to mobile data service, he said ISPs would ensure access only to the 1,485 whitelisted sites and not to any social media applications allowing peer-to-peer communication and VPN applications.
“Data services shall be available on the postpaid mobiles and on prepaid SIM cards of such holders whose credentials have been verified as per the norms applicable for postpaid connections, and the internet speed shall be restricted to 2G only,” he said in his order.
About fixed-line internet connectivity, he said, “Wherever connectivity has been provided with effect from January 14 and onwards, ISPs shall ensure that access is limited to the whitelisted sites and not to any social media applications allowing peer-to-peer communication and VPN applications.
“Internet connectivity shall be available only after mac-binding. It is further directed that all those who are provided access to the internet shall ensure that it is not misused for uploading the provocative material inimical to the interest of the state,” the order read.