The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday night restored broadband services in institutions dealing with “essential services”, such as hospitals, banks, government offices, hotels, and tour and travel establishments, Hindustan Times reported.
In an official press release, the administration asked internet service providers to install firewalls and carry out “white listing” of websites before providing these services. However, social media websites continue to be banned.
The order came three days after the Supreme Court ordered the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review within a week all restrictive orders imposed in the Union Territory. The bench of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai said suspending internet indefinitely violated telecom rules.
The court said the restrictions on internet have to follow the “principles of proportionality” and complete curbs must be considered by the state only as an extraordinary measure. The bench instructed the government to publish in the public domain all the orders imposing restrictions so that they can be challenged in courts.
On August 5, the Centre had revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status, imposed a curfew, detained political leaders, and banned all communication services.
The lockdown is still in place but some curbs have been lifted. On the midnight of January 1, SMS services were restored. The Ladakh administration had restored 4G mobile internet connectivity in Kargil on December 27, after a gap of 145 days. Postpaid mobile phone services had been restored across all networks in the Kashmir Valley on October 14.
Last month, Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Ram Madhav said internet connectivity might be restored in the Kashmir Valley based on the assessment of security. “I’m expecting that things will be restored soon,” he added.
The administration’s order on Tuesday said the institutions and government offices being provided internet would need take measures to prevent its misuse. These institutions will have to appoint nodal officers, keep a record of persons using internet, manage and monitor daily usage, and ensure that only authorised persons can access it.
“2G mobile connectivity on postpaid 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,”said Principal Secretary Shaleen Kabra, who signed the order. “However, in the other districts of the UT of J&K, mobile internet connectivity shall remain suspended till further directions...”
The principal secretary also said the Kashmir division would set up 400 additional kiosks, apart from the 844 already in place, to extend the facility of fixed line broadband connectivity.