The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday ordered the continuance of 2G mobile data services in the union territory till April 15 even as there has been a growing demand for restoration of high-speed 4G internet in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
In an order, Shaleen Kabra said reports have been received from the intelligence and law enforcement agencies which, among other things, bring out the factum of the attempts made by the anti-national elements (ANEs) to spread propaganda/ideologies through transmission of fake news and targeted messages aimed at disturbing the public order and cause disaffection and discontent as also coordinate acts of terrorism.
“Whereas, many instances of misuse of data ‘services for incitement, including circulation of fake news, have been noticed which necessitated even use of teargas to disperse people in such precarious times when owing to COVID-19, orders under section 144 Cr.PC have been enforced to regulate assembly/movement and there is enhanced public awareness regarding social distancing measures. There have also been recoveries of major cache of arms/ ammunitions on one hand and killings of civilians by the terrorists on the other, apart from attempts to encourage terrorism through uploading of provocative videos/ material as also infiltration from across the border,” reads the order.
“Further, the recent changes in the domicile law in J&K too has the potential to be exploited by those inimical to public peace and tranquility and cause large scale violence and disturb public order, which has till now been maintained due to various pre-emptive measures, including restriction on access to internet with relaxations in a calibrated and gradual manner, after due consideration of the ground situation,” it added.
The order reads that the internet speed restrictions have, while enabling access to essential services and sites, not posed any hindrance to COVID – 19 control measures or to access online educational content, but checked the unfettered misuse of social media for incitement and propagating /coordinating terror activities.
According to an order, in view of the position stated above and upon consideration of the available alternative measures, I, Principal Secretary to the Government. Home Department, being satisfied that it is necessary so to do, in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the Security of the State 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, hereby order that the internet speed on mobile phones will be restricted to 2G only.
The order said the directions shall be effective from April 4, 2020, and remain in force till April 15, 2020, unless modified earlier.