Govt may restore 4G Internet in more districts, say officials

4G Internet

SRINAGAR — Based on a considered and wide-ranging assessment of the prevailing situation, the government may restore 4G Internet services in more districts in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Highly placed sources said that the review by top authorities will be carried out and if there is an improvement in the security situation, appropriate action will be taken accordingly.

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“We are assessing the situation. We may open it (4G) in more districts as and when we deem it appropriate, given the level of peace we have in the province,” said a top source in the administration, wishing not to be named, said.

One of the top officials said that as a measure of precaution, they are not opening 4G services even when they were aware that there is already peace in most of the districts.

Since the ban on 4G, the government has been maintaining that these security measures such as the Internet ban were necessary to better integrate the region with India, foster greater economic development and stop threats from “anti-national elements”.

Interestingly, Jammu and Kashmir’s Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, recently had given hints on restoration of high-speed 4G Internet services in the remaining 18 districts of the Union Territory (UT) soon.

“I know 4G is working in just two districts of J&K. There is a committee examining the issue. Hopefully, there will be good news soon in the coming days,” he had said, while replying a question at a press conference in winter capital Jammu.

2G Internet services to continue till November 12 in J&K

Last week, the Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir representing 3,800 institutions, filed a fresh affidavit seeking the ease of restrictions on the Internet. It said that children in J&K were losing academic years because it’s impossible to conduct online classes using video-conferencing tools such as Zoom or WebEx at 2G mobile Internet speed.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration recently extended the suspension of Internet till February 6, saying the services will continue to be restricted to 2G. The ban was extended to all districts except Ganderbal and Udhampur districts.

In an order, the administration also said Internet connectivity shall be continued to be made available, with Mac-binding.

Principal Secretary to the Union Territory administration, Shaleen Kabra had said that he was satisfied with the reports of law enforcement agencies that it was necessary to extend the ban “in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state and for maintaining public order.”

According to the order, the law enforcement agencies’ reports indicated that the suspension had helped thwart plans of militant organisations operating in the Union Territory to “misguide, incite and provoke the youth in furthering their anti-India agenda since regulation of high-speed mobile Internet prevents easy streaming / dissemination / downloading of such material/videos.”

Internet services suspended in parts of Kashmir

Meanwhile, sources said that the administration is taking action against those who are spreading rumours.

“We have taken action against some people who have scripted wrong stories and rumours. Police have already been tasked to collect details of all such people who are participating in spreading wrong information,” said the source.

It is to mention here that the J&K administration restored 4G services in Udhampur and Ganderbal districts on a trial basis on August 16 last year, but refused to extend high-speed mobile Internet beyond these precincts citing inputs from security agencies about “terror modules trying to lure youths into militant organizations.”

The services was restored in Ganderbal and Udhampur districts of the Union Territory and it was for the first time when high-speed Internet services returned to the region after restrictions were clamped following abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile State into two Union Territories last year on August 5.

The restoration of 4G services was done on the recommendation of a panel constituted by the Supreme Court of India to review the restrictions vis-à-vis the security situation in the Union Territory.

The decision was in line with Centre’s assurance to the Supreme Court that the 4G ban will be lifted in one district each in Jammu and Kashmir divisions from August 16 last year.

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