Internet Services to Be Partially Restored in Jammu and Kashmir Today

Yolanda Curtis
January 15, 2020

"ISPs to provide broadband facility, with Mac-binding, to all the institutions dealing with essential services, hospitals, banks, etc as also government offices, and in order to facilitate tourism, to hotels and tour and travel establishments", Kabra said in the order.

In line with the supreme court ruling, the order by the Kashmir administration also laid out its justification for the ongoing internet shutdown.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah wanted all members of the Union Council of Ministers to pay a visit to Jammu and Kashmir, with the "objective of disseminating information about the importance of the government policies with regard to the overall development of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and its people along with the steps taken by the government of India in this direction particularly in the last 5 months", a letter sent by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy said, according to The Indian Express.

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 post paid mobiles for accessing white-listed sites, including for e-banking, shall be allowed, to begin with, in the districts of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi".

Mobile Internet was partially restored in five districts of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday with several riders.

However, only "white-listed" sites such as e-Banking services will be accessible; VPN services and social media apps will be still inaccessible. However, the order said there will be complete restriction on social media applications that may facilitate "peer to peer communication". It asks them to appoint nodal officers for managing and monitoring Internet use, keep a record of users, and change accessibility credentials every day.

5 Whereas, the Hon'blc Supreme Court of India has, in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1031 of 2019 titled Anuradha Bhasin Union of India and Ors. vide its judgment dated 10.01.2020. directed to review all orders suspending internet services forthwith and while taking decisions regarding restrictions, adhere to the principle of proportionality.

The government, in the order, reiterates that "the misuse of data services by anti-national elements has the potential to cause large scale violence and disturb public order which has till now been maintained due to various pre-emptive measures..."

The militants, as per the government, do so by communicating through Voice on Internet Protocol (VOIP) and encrypted mobile communication through various social media applications. These shall supersede all the orders earlier issued on the subject.

The J&K administration has cited possible misuse of the internet by anti-national elements and terrorists as a reason for not restoring these services for the general public and media in the Kashmir Valley. The order will be effective from January 15 and will remain in force for 7 days, unless modified earlier.

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