The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday extended the ban on 4G Internet services till August 19. The decision comes days after the J&K Lieutenant-Governor G.C. Murmu told the Indian Express in an interview that the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir had told the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that it did not have any objection in restoring 4G internet services, and that high-speed Net connectivity would not pose any problem.
The order extending internet restrictions states “There are inputs suggesting rise in the anti-national activities over the coming weeks, more so in view of the completion of a year since the implementation of the constitutional changes viz-a-viz J&K, Independence Day celebration etc”.
Further, the order states that the decision has been taken after noting the overall security situation and report of enforcement agencies while keeping in view the aspects of ‘reasonability’ of restriction with regard to the principle of ‘proportionality’ and consideration of available alternatives.
The internet restrictions in J&K have been in place since August 5, 2019, the day when the special status of J&K was revoked. The restrictions are reviewed by the administration periodically. Presently the internet speed is restricted to 2G only.
On May 11, the Supreme Court had refused to issue direction on a batch of petitions seeking to restore 4G Internet in J&K. The court had, however, appointed a special committee comprising the Union Home Secretary as its chairperson and Secretary (Department of Communication) and the Chief Secretary of UT of J&K as its members to determine the necessity of the continuation of the restrictions on 4G Internet in J&K.
In response to a contempt petition filed in the apex court alleging non-compliance of Court’s order dated May 11, the Centre informed the court last week that the Special Committee had its meeting on May 15 and June 10.
“Based on a considered and wide-ranging assessment of the prevailing situation in the sensitive region, the committee arrived at a decision that no further relaxation of the restriction on internet services could be carried out at present”, the Centre told the Court.
As per MHA’s affidavit, it was also decided that the next review by the Special Committee would be carried out after two months. However, the situation would be reviewed regularly by the other competent authorities, and if there is an improvement in the security situation appropriate action would accordingly be taken.
Also Read: The Kashmir Blackout