Mobile internet and broadband services will be restored in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, nearly six months after they were snapped following the abrogation of Article 370 in August. But, there will be some restrictions – internet will be limited to “whitelisted” websites and social media platforms will not be accessible.
The relatively slower 2G internet connectivity will be available on postpaid as well as prepaid SIM cards, the administration said in a statement, according to NDTV. They will be reviewed again on January 31.
“It is hereby directed that mobile data services and Internet access through fixed-line shall be allowed across the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir with the following restrictions...,” an order issued by the Jammu and Kashmir administration read. “The aforesaid direction shall come into effect from January 25, 2020, and remain in force till January 31, 2020, unless modified earlier.”
The list of 300 whitelisted websites includes email services, banking websites, education-related websites, job platforms, entertainment and sports websites, 13 websites for accessing government and other services, travel websites and 53 news websites.
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In lockdown since August 5
On August 5 last year, the Centre had amended Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke 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.
Voice calls and SMS facilities were restored on prepaid mobile networks in Jammu and Kashmir on January 18 after remaining suspended for over five months. The administration also restored 2G mobile data services, but only for access to a set of 153 “whitelisted” websites, in all districts of Jammu division and two districts of Kashmir division – Kupwara and Bandipora.
The administration had restored broadband services in institutions dealing with “essential services” on January 15. The administration had asked internet service providers to install firewalls and carry out “white-listing” of websites before resuming services. Social media websites continue to be banned in the region.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had 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 had noted that 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 judges had also instructed the government to publish in the public domain all the orders imposing restrictions so that they can be challenged in courts.