4G ban extended till Apr 15; Govt says no hindrance to online edu, COVID-19 measures

Dubs new domicile law as reason to keep high-speed internet off

Srinagar, Apr 3: The J&K government yet again extended the suspension of high-speed internet in Kashmir till April 15 stating the same “did not hinder” COVID-19 control measures or access to online educational content.

In an extension order passed late Friday, Principal Secretary to the government Shaleen Kabra said “many instances of misuse of data services for incitement including circulation of fake news have been noticed.”

“(Such incitements) necessitated even use of tear gas to disperse people in such precarious times when owing to COVID-19, order under Section Cr.PC have been enforced to regulate assembly…,” reads the order.

“The internet speed restrictions have, while enabling access to essential services and sites, not posed any hindrance to COVID-19 control measures or to access online educational content, but checked the unfettered misuse of social media for incitement and propagating/coordinating terror activities,” the order reads.

It also presents recent changes in the domicile law of J&K as one of the reasons for continuing with the suspension of the high-speed internet.

“The recent changes in the domicile law too has the potential to be exploited by those inimical to public peace and tranquillity and cause large scale violence…,” it says

Extending the ban, it adds, was “absolutely necessary to do so in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India.”

The latest extension is yet another blow to public expectations of 4G restoration in the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.               

Several noted persons in academia and medical sectors have called for restoration of the services so that doctors, students and the general public do not face the hassles in accessing information.

To mention, internet services along with mobile and fixed land line telephony, were suspended in Kashmir on August 4 last year, a day before government of India abrogated Article 370 and divided and downgraded the state into two union territories.

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About the Author

A journalist by chance with over five years of experience in reporting, editing, and bucketing local, national and international content for my current organization. I have covered education, health, politics, and human rights. I like working for a daily, though I occasionally try my pen in long-form to connect personal narratives with history.

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