Jammu & Kashmir

Will lift ban on high-speed internet in JK on ‘trial basis from August 16’, GoI tells SC

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Srinagar: Three days after the Supreme Court of India asked the authorities in JK to take a considered stand on the possibility of providing 4G Internet services in Kashmir, suspended since August 5, last year, the Government of India on Tuesday informed the SC that it is open to lifting restrictions on a trial basis in select areas of Jammu and Kashmir.

Quoting Attorney General KK Venugopa, a report by Hindustan Times said that 4G ban will be lifted in one district each in JK divisions from August 16.

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed by Foundation for Media Professionals, a non-government organisation, in June seeking the initiation of contempt proceedings against the Centre and J-K administration for the failure to comply with the top court’s May 11 directions to review restrictions on mobile Internet speed in the erstwhile state.

Earlier on Friday, a bench of Justices N V Ramana, R S Reddy and B R Gavai told solicitor general Tushar Mehta not to delay taking a decision on one pretext or the other when the law officer said there was a change in lieutenant governor in the UT and he would need time to take fresh instructions.

On July 28, the Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, the senior lawyer appearing for the Government of India (GoI) submitted to the Apex Court bench, headed by Justice N V Ramana, that it will verify the reported statements of JK LG in the media that 4G should be restored.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration said that it will examine and file a rejoinder and the next hearing date was scheduled on August 07.

On July 26, three days after GoI announced “no relaxation in high-speed Internet” in JK, the erstwhile state administration had told the Ministry of Home Affairs India that it did not have any objection in restoring the high-speed (4G) Internet services in the region.

“We have been making representation for this… I feel that 4G will not be a problem. I am not afraid how people will use this. Pakistan will do its propaganda, whether it is 2G or 4G. It will always be there… But I don’t see an issue,” the then Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu had told The Sunday Express.

On July 23, the Home Ministry of India had said that People of Jammu and Kashmir will not be getting the high-speed (4G) Internet services anytime soon.

In May, BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav had pitched for restoring high-speed 4G Internet in Jammu and Kashmir to pay the people for not “pelting stones and shouting Azadi.”

High-speed Internet has been shut down in Kashmir since August 5, 2019, when Government of India scrapped the special status of JK and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two Union territories- JK and Ladakh.

The move was made while all communication was blacked out, political leadership jailed, and curfew imposed in the region.

Following the abrogation, JK was turned into a union territory, governed directly by New Delhi through a selected local administration. Since then, the Government of India has changed many laws, including those that protected indigenous Kashmiris’ land rights.

As the removal of Article 370, ended the prohibition of outsiders to own land, the Domicile law, was introduced to grant citizenship of Jammu and Kashmir to outsiders, triggering fear of demographic change in the region. Since then, thousands of outsiders have been given the domicile certificates, including ex Indian Army personnel.

 

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