High speed 4G internet services are being restored across Jammu and Kashmir, a senior government official said on Friday, more than 18 months after they were snapped to prevent a backlash against the centre’s move to revoke the former state’s special status.
Jammu and Kashmir was put under what became the world’s longest-running internet shutdown in a democratic country on August 5, 2019, when the centre announced plans to scrap its decades-old autonomy listed in the constitution.
In days that followed, the state was split into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh – and several politicians, including three former Chief Ministers, were taken into detention to pre-empt a pushback. Over the last year, broadband internet and slow mobile data were restored in phases since the Supreme Court told off the government earlier while hearing cases that called the curbs an assault on free speech and democratic rights. Last August, the government told the Supreme Court that 4G internet services will be allowed on a trial basis in one district of Jammu and one of the Kashmir valley after Independence Day. The curbs on the rest of the state were extended multiple times. On 22 January, the J&K administration extended the ban on high-speed mobile internet across the Union territory till 6 February 2021. The administration justified the ban stating ‘well-founded apprehensions about seditious propaganda from across the border on public order’.
High-speed mobile internet had continued to remain functional only in Ganderbal and Udhampur districts, post-paid services, and verified pre-paid services. Consequently, the administration has reviewed the scenario on a monthly basis but has repeatedly extended the ban on high-speed internet. Mobile internet services were throttled to stop the spread of misinformation and terrorists from abusing the networks, the administration said.