The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday refused to extend high speed mobile internet, or 4G services outside the two districts of Ganderbal and Udhampur, citing inputs from security agencies about “terror modules” trying to lure youths into terrorist organisations, PTI reported. However, the 4G services in Ganderbal and Udhampur would continue till September 30.
Internet services were cut off in Jammu and Kashmir last year on August 5, hours before the Centre revoked Article 370 of the Constitution and split the state into two Union Territories. The low-speed or 2G internet service on mobile phones was restored on January 25, although outages continue to be imposed intermittently amid a complete ban on 4G network. In August, the government restarted high-speed mobile data service in Ganderbal and Udhampur districts on a “trial basis” as part of “calibrated easing of restrictions”.
In an order issued on Monday evening, Principal Secretary in the Home Department Shaleen Kabra said the decision to extend the ban was taken after a fresh review of the situation. Kabra observed that while there have been no reports of misuse of high-speed internet services in these two districts, the situation needs to be monitored closely.
The order said that the law enforcement agencies have furnished credible inputs on terror modules making sustained efforts to “provoke sentiments of gullible youths” and lure them into terrorist organisations. This “indicated potential misuse of high-speed data services in disturbing public order”, it added.
The agencies have also expressed apprehensions that the high-speed data services can be misused for assisting infiltration attempts by terrorists along the Line of Control and the International Border.
The resumption of 4G internet services in Ganderbal and Udhampur on August 16 came days after the Supreme Court asked the Centre to form a special committee comprising senior Ministry of Home Affairs and Union Territory officials to deliberate on the matter of restoring high-speed internet services in Kashmir.
The internet shutdown in the erstwhile state has attracted considerable criticism against the Narendra Modi government from various rights organisations and at the international forum. Media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontières while downgrading India’s ratings on the Press Freedom Index, had said that India’s score was influenced by the digital blockage imposed in Kashmir. On August 26, the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, or JKCCS, had called the communications blockade in the Union Territory “digital apartheid” and a form of collective punishment unleashed by the Indian government on the people.