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Citing ‘launch of new militant outfits’, Govt extends 4G ban till May 11

Srinagar: The J&K Government has yet again extended the ongoing restrictions on high-speed mobile internet in Kashmir till May 11.

Apart from the slew of reasons it usually cites to extend the ban on 4G internet, the government, in its latest order, has also mentioned “launch of new terror outfits” as the reason to continue with the suspension.

“There has recently been a spurt in terrorist violence with launch of new terror outfits and the field agencies have well founded apprehensions of enhanced efforts by Pakistan for recruitment in the terrorists’ ranks as well as infiltration attempts, which heavily depend on high speed internet,” reads the latest order by Principal Secretary to the government Shaleen Kabra.

Kashmir has witnessed multiple encounters in the last 10 days with at least 13 militants being killed, the latest of which happened on Monday at Lower Munda area of Qazigund in South Kashmir in which three militants were killed.

“Misuse of data services by anti-national elements has potential to scale up violent activities and disturb public order, which has till now been maintained due to gradual easing of restrictions on access to the internet while ensuring that rights and interests of the citizens are not affected adversely,” reads the new order.

Extending the ban till May 11, it adds, there was “no other alternative but to continue with the speed restrictions” and the decision was “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 more so in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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.