The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday extended the ban on the high-speed 4G internet services till August 19. This came after Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu had last week said that the administration has no objection in restoring 4G internet services in the Union Territory, adding that it will not be a security concern.
“Restrictions on access to internet through mobile data services have been necessitated in view of its misuse in planning and executing terror acts, including attacks on security forces, political workers and innocent civilians, propagation of ideologies inimical to the interests of the country, misguiding the youth to join terrorist ranks, communicating and coordinating with handlers across the border to facilitate infiltration,” Principal Secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra said, in Wednesday’s order.
The administration added that intelligence inputs have suggested a rise in “anti-national activities” ahead of the first anniversary of the revocation of the erstwhile state’s special status and Independence Day celebrations. “It was absolutely necessary in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state and for maintaining public order,” the order said.
Internet services were stopped in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 last year after the Narendra Modi government revoked Article 370 and bifurcated the former state into two Union Territories. It was restored in phases in the second week of January. Currently, only 2G internet is allowed in the region.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on July 23, the Centre said that a committee constituted to examine the demands for restoring 4G services, following the orders of the court on May 11, had met twice, but decided not to relax the restrictions on internet usage any further for the time being. The special committee comprises the Union home secretary, Department of Telecommunications secretary and the chief secretary of the Union Territory.
The petitioners had argued that 4G services were essential amid the coronavirus pandemic so that people can connect with doctors in case of emergencies. They also said that without high-speed internet services, schools have been facing problems in holding virtual classes for their students amid the lockdown. Doctors have also spoken out against the suspension of internet services amid the health crisis.
On May 4, the top court had reserved its order on the petitions for restoring 4G services in the region. During that hearing, the Centre had cited the Handwara military operation, in which five soldiers died, as an argument to defend the lack of 4G internet in the Union Territory.