SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday extended the 4G mobile internet ban till November 26 in all districts, except in Ganderbal and Udhampur.
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. On August 16, the government restarted high-speed mobile data service in Ganderbal and Udhampur districts on a “trial basis”, as part of “calibrated easing of restrictions”.
According to Government Order No: Home-120 (TSTS) of 2020, whereas, taking note of the observations regarding the regulation of internet services made in the report of the Special Committee constituted by the Supreme Court and the reports of the law enforcement agencies regarding the prevailing security environment, directions for allowing access to the high-speed internet services were issued while ensuring that the same do not impede the efforts of the Government towards COVID Control measures, enabling access lo educational programmes and ensuring the conduct of business activities in an effective manner.
“Whereas the recently announced elections to 280 District Development Council Constituencies and bye-elections to more than 13400 vacancies in PRIs/ULB, spread across the UT of J&K, arc witnessing a high level of interest amongst the people and it is apprehended that the terrorist and separatist elements shall make every possible attempt to disrupt the democratic process,” reads the order issued by government.
“During the last fortnight, there have also been targeted killing of the civilians/political activists, that manifest the nefarious designs of the terrorists to dissuade the general public from participating in the election process. Such unlawful acts heavily rely upon high-speed mobile internet connectivity and are required to be thwarted by taking appropriate pre-emptive measures to create an environment of safety and security for the contesting candidates and the general public,” it reads.
“Now, therefore, I, Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department, being satisfied that, it is absolutely necessary so to do in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, The security of the Slate and for maintaining public order, in the exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and sub-rule (1) of rule 2 of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.”
“The high-speed mobile data services in the districts of Gandcrbal and Udhampur shall continue to be made available, while in rest of the districts, the internet speed be restricted to 2G only,” it added.
“While the postpaid sim cardholders shall continue to be provided access to the internet, these services shall not be made available on pre-paid cards unless verified as per the norms applicable for post-paid connections,” it reads.
“Internet connectivity, without any speed-related restrictions, shall continue to be made available with Mac-binding,” it added.
“The aforesaid directions shall be effective from today, November 12, 2020, and remain in force till November 26, 2020, unless modified earlier. The IsGP, Kashmir/Jammu shall communicate these directions to the service providers forthwith and ensure their implementation in letter and spirit,” reads the order.