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After 550 days, high-speed internet restored in Jammu and Kashmir

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Srinagar: After remaining suspended for 550 days, the government on Friday finally decided to restore the 4G mobile internet facility outside the districts of Ganderbal and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir.

The high-speed facility was restored on a trial basis in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal and Jammu region’s Udhampur on 16 August last year.

In the rest of the 18 other districts, the internet speed remained to be restricted to 2G only with government giving one or the other reasons for its action.

“4G mobile internet services being restored in the entire J-K,” said Principal Secretary PDD and Information, Rohit Kansal, who is also Government spokesperson, in a tweet.

Later the government issued a formal order to announce the restoration of the services, and said that the same was done on the recommendations of a committee constituted on the orders by the Supreme Court last year.

“…keeping in view the advice of the Special Committee and upon careful review of the overall security scenario, I, Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department [Competent Authority under sub-rule (1) of Rule 2 of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017], hereby revoke the restrictions on mobile data services and fixed line internet connectivity placed vide Government order No. ffome-02(TSTS) of 2021 dated 22.01.2021, except to the extent that the pre-paid SIM card holders shall be provided access to the internet connectivity only after verification as per the norms applicable for post-paid connections,” reads an order issued by Shaleen Kabra (IAS), Principal Secretary to the Government.

The decision, he said, was taken after an objective assessment of the prevailing circumstances and necessity of continuation of (speed) restrictions, the Special Committee, constituted under the orders of the Supreme Court in its order dated 11 May last year in case titled “Foundation for Media Professionals Vs. UT of J&K and others”, held its 6th meeting on 4 February. “Among other things, it (committee) took note of the inputs and apprehensions of the security agencies and police forces as also the assessment of opening of high speed mobile internet connectivity in the districts of Udhampur and Ganderbal.”

He said that the IsGP, Kashmir/Jammu, who are the Authorized Officers in their respective areas of jurisdiction, shall ensure compliance of the order by the service providers “forthwith”. “They shall also closely monitor the impact of lifting of restrictions.”

The internet services were snapped in Jammu and Kashmir hours before the government of India revoked J-K limited autonomy and broke down the erstwhile state into two federally governed territories.

The 2G internet facility on mobile phones was restored after 153 days on 25 January 2019, however, the access was restricted to a list of government approved websites.

Later, the unrestricted access to the internet was restored on 2G data speed.

Pertinently, the resumption of 4G internet services in Ganderbal and Udhampur after a gap of one year on 16 August last year came days after the government of India informed the Supreme Court that the special committee looking into the matter was considering allowing the facility on a trial basis in two districts. (GNS)

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