4G Internet Services to Resume Across J&K For the First Time Since August 2019

The ban on high-speed internet, enforced in August 2019, had continued through the COVID-19 pandemic in most districts of J&K.

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir’s principal secretary (power and information) has announced that 4G internet services are to be restored across the Union Territory. If implemented, this will mean that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir will have high-speed internet after 19 months and for the first time since August 5, 2019.

The services, according to PTI, are likely to resume from Friday midnight.

The Centre, which directly rules Jammu and Kashmir since Article 370 was read down in August 2019, and the state was divided into two Union Territories, has been prolonging the ban on 4G internet from time to time since mid-2019. The latest order authorising the extension on the ban had been issued on January 22, 2021.

According to a report on internet shutdowns, J&K saw 213 days of continued internet blackout from August 5, 2019 to March, 2020, when 2G services were restored.

After that, high-speed mobile internet was restored in two districts, Ganderbal in Kashmir region and Udhampur in Jammu region, on a “trial basis” in August 2020.

The ban on high-speed internet had continued through the COVID-19 pandemic, even as healthcare professionals struggled to access material directly related to the treatment and reaction to the coronavirus disease. It has affected nearly all aspects of life in J&K adversely – from journalism to education to business.

As Shakir Mir had noted in his latest analysis for The Wire, the Supreme Court had in its intervention in the Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India case in January, 2020, stopped short of declaring internet access a fundamental right but also did not call for its restoration.

The Supreme Court had also held that blacking out internet services indefinitely is not permissible under existing legislation.

The apex court had ordered that a three-member Special Committee be entrusted with the task of reviewing the need for continuing restrictions.  However, the Centre had first delayed setting up the committee, paving way for a contempt case and then said in the Supreme Court that the panel had met twice, without annexing the panel’s reports to its submission.

Internet order J&K government by The Wire on Scribd