The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday said that only 2G internet services will be available to the residents till June 17. The government’s order came amid demands for high-speed internet in the region as it battles the coronavirus crisis.
In an order, the government cited terror attacks and infiltration attempts as reasons to not allow high-speed internet in the region. “Reports suggest rise in the infiltration of terrorists during the coming weeks due to the onset of summer and melting of snow, which gets facilitated through use of Voice on Internet Protocol [VOIP]] and encrypted mobile communication, being used by the operatives/anti-national elements to communicate with their handlers from across the border,” Home Department Principal Secretary Shaleen Kabra said in the order.
“There have also been multiple instances of terrorist acts including attacks on security forces and attempts to encourage terrorism through uploading and circulation of provocative videos and false propaganda, largely relying on false propaganda, to disturb public order,” the order added.
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The administration also claimed that restrictions on internet speed have not hindered measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in any way. “In view of security scenario, the report of law enforcement agencies inter-alia bringing out the necessity of speed related restriction on mobile data services to prevent its misuse, the decision was taken to continue restrictions till June 17,” the government said.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had refused to pass orders to restore 4G internet services in Jammu and Kashmir and instead directed the Centre to form a special committee to examine the petitioners’ demands.
The petitioners had argued that 4G services were essential amid the coronavirus pandemic so that people could connect with doctors in case of emergencies. They also said that without high-speed internet services, schools were facing problems in holding virtual classes for students amid the lockdown. Doctors had also spoken out against the suspension of internet services, which they said were necessary in the times of a health crisis.
Jammu and Kashmir has reported 1,921 coronavirus cases and 26 deaths so far, according to data from the Union health ministry.
Mobile internet services were snapped across Kashmir after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo on May 6. The Valley is still emerging from the communications blackout after August 5, when the Centre scrapped the region’s special status and split it into two Union Territories.