The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday ordered for 2G internet services to be restored in the entire Kashmir Valley from midnight on the intervening night between Friday and Saturday, reports said. The restoration of the 2G internet facility on mobile phones will continue till 31 January after which it will be reviewed further, the administration's order said.
Internet connectivity was suspended in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August, 2019, after the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370, which accorded the region a certain degree of autonomy, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
On Friday, the home department of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir issued a notification saying that access to the internet with 2G speed on mobile phones will resume from Saturday.
Access will be limited to whitelisted sites, the order said, however, social media platforms will continue to remain out of bounds for the Valley's residents.
Data services will be available on postpaid as well as prepaid SIM cards. Citing the order, The Indian Express said that internet will be accessible only on SIM cards "of such holders whose credentials have been verified as per the norms applicable for the postpaid connections".
On 15 January, the administration had announced that broadband internet for essential services like hospitals, banks, and hotels were to be restored in phases in Jammu districts. In addition to this, "restricted data access" was also provided to Kupwara and Bandipora districts in Kashmir on 18 January.
The 15 January order came soon after the Supreme Court directed it to review all the restrictions in the Union Territory. Internet facilities were allowed on "white-listed websites" in hospitals, banks, government offices, hotels, educational institutions, and tourism companies.
The order had also said that the 2G mobile connectivity on postpaid mobiles for accessing white-listed websites including e-banking will be opened in the Jammu, Samba, Kathua, and Reasi districts of the Jammu region. In a three-page order, the home department had said that 400 additional internet kiosks will be established in the Kashmir division.
On 10 January, the apex court held that access to internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution.
The bench also held that internet shutdowns cannot be ordered to suppress speech unless there is incitement to violence or similar reasons. "Reasonableness of Section 144 orders must be assessed based on territorial reach, nature of restrictions and time period," the court added.
The Supreme Court ordered that the suspension of internet should be reviewed forthwith and that such suspension can be only "for a limited time period". It is also subject to judicial review, Justice Ramana said while reading the judgment.
A five-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana also asked the administration to restore internet services in institutions providing essential services like hospitals and educational places.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jan 25, 2020 00:03:26 IST