Snapped For Hours, The Snail Pace Internet Restored In Kashmir

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SRINAGAR: Hours before the function of August 15, the independence day to be commemorated, the authorities snapped the mobile internet in the Kashmir region. However, the fixed-line connections are working at curtailed speed. The 2G internet was, however, restored in the afternoon soon after the function was over.

According to the reports, the internet was snapped in the early hours of Saturday. However, mobile phone services were allowed to function as usual.

The security officials working on the ground maintained that the step has been taken as a “precautionary measure.” Internet apart, stringent security measures were put in place to ensure the day passes off “peacefully.”

A senior police officer said that after militants struck on Friday, killing two Jammu and  Kashmir police cops and injuring other in the Nowgam Bypass area, the security has been heightened to “thwart any attempt of disrupting the function.”

Pertinently, suspension of mobile phone and internet services have become a routine since 2005, after a blast was triggered outside the Bakhshi Stadium during the Independence Day parade in 2005. But on January 26, 2015, first time in decades, mobile phone and internet services were not disrupted in Kashmir as part of security arrangement.

A Year of Shutdown

The high speed mobile 4G internet services have completed a year of shutdown in Kashmir. Denouncing the decision, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) members urged authorities to restore high-speed internet in the region and end the “world’s longest communications shutdown.”

The restriction on the internet has hit several sectors, including education, tourism, export industry, healthcare in times of pandemic, and other related fields.

According to the Software Freedom Law Centre, a legal services organization in New Delhi that keeps a track of internet shutdowns, authorities since 2012 have shut down the internet 180 times in Kashmir.

According to a 2020 report by New York-based digital rights organisation Access Now, India has been labelled the “internet shutdown capital of the world” for ordering the most number of internet shutdowns since 2015.

The report said in 2019, of the 213 internet shutdowns imposed across the world, India ordered 121, while Venezuela was number two with just 12 instances.

On the internet shutdown in J&K, especially Kashmir, Access Now stated that it was the second-longest shutdown of the year at 175 days, behind one ordered by Myanmar. So far in 2020, there have been 55 shutdowns in India, with 46 of them in Jammu and Kashmir, and 38 in Kashmir alone.

Silver Jubilee

It was on August 15, 1995, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) formally launched the Internet for the Indian public. However, the early history of the internet in India dates back to 1986 when it was launched in the form of Educational Research Network (ERNET) meant only for the use of educational and research communities. It was a joint undertaking of the Department of Electronics (DOE) of the Government of India, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which provides technical assistance to developing nations.

There was also the NICNet that began in 1988, the network was operated by the National Informatics Centre to improve communications between government institutions. From a few hundreds, according to open-source data, there are more than 500 million users of the internet in India.

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