Jammu & Kashmir

No high-speed Internet in JK for now, Home Ministry tells SC

Committee will review its decision after two months: MHA 

Srinagar: As the Home Ministry of India has decided to continue the restrictions in the region, People in Jammu and Kashmir will not be getting high-speed (4G) Internet anytime soon.

Earlier in a week, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Supreme Court (SC) that a special committee was constituted to look into the issue of restoring 4G Internet in J&K and it has decided against resuming the services.

In response to a contempt petition against the central government, the Ministry in an affidavit filed two days ago, said that the committee will review its decision after two months.

“Based on a considered and wide-ranging assessment of the prevailing situation in this sensitive region, the committee arrived at a decision that no further relaxation of restrictions on Internet services, including 4G services, could be carried out at present,” reads a response by MHA to SC.

The Ministry added that the situation will be reviewed by other competent authorities for the next two months. If there is an improvement, appropriate action would accordingly be taken.

On July 16, MHA’s affidavit follows a direction by a Supreme Court bench, led by Justice N.V. Ramana, to answer allegations of contempt raised against it in a petition by the Foundation of Media Professionals (FMP).

The FMP petition had sought action against government officials for allegedly defying the top court’s order to form the special committee. The bench had then observed that the government should have put the committee’s decision, to not resume 4G Internet services in J&K, in the public domain.

On 11 May, the top court had directed the government to constitute a three-member high-powered committee to look into the issue of restoring 4G Internet services in J&K.

The mobile Internet in Jammu and Kashmir is available at low speed (2G) now.

In August 2019, the Centre abrogated Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and locked down the region. The lockdown was followed by the democratic world’s longest Internet shutdown, which was partially lifted on January 25 when authorities restored access to 2G Internet.

The denial of high-speed Internet has, however, prevented people from using banking apps, paying bills online and accessing other services.

The students are the latest to suffer now, as the slow Internet speed continues and school education in Kashmir has been affected severely over the last few months.

First, there was no schooling in the valley for six months last year following the abrogation of Article 370 by the Centre. The schools reopened briefly in March only to be closed days later because of the COVID outbreak.

Medical bodies are of the same opinion that amid the COVID pandemic, doctors in Kashmir are struggling to update themselves on the latest information on the deadly infection.

 

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