The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday revoked the ban on social media nearly seven months after it was put in place as the Centre stripped the region of its special status and split it into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. So far, the administration had allowed usage of 2G internet speed, and access was granted to only whitelisted websites.
“...hereby direct internet access across the UT of J&K with the following restrictions...the internet speed shall be restricted to 2G only, while the post paid sim card holders shall continue to be provided access to the internet, these services shall not be made available on pre-paid sim cards unless verified as per the norms applicable for post-paid connections,” read the order. It added that internet connectivity will continue to be available on fixed line connections. The order will remain in force upto March 17, the notification by Principal Secretary Shaleen Kabra said.
Jammu and Kashmir has been in partial lockdown since August 5, when the Centre revoked the erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. There has been a gradual ease on communication restrictions, however, high-speed 3G and 4G continue to be banned. On February 25, the region gained access to only 1,674 websites. In Wednesday’s order, there was no information on whitelisted sites, which meant the region has access to all sites.
Last week, Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup hit out at Islamabad for raising concerns about the restrictions on communications in Jammu and Kashmir in the United Nations Human Rights Council session. He asserted that the region “was, is, and shall forever” be integral to India.