Jammu, Jan 24: The Jammu and Kashmir administration issued orders late Friday instructing the restoration of broadband and 2G internet service in Kashmir from Saturday. However, restrictions on social media will continue at least until January 31.
Since Broadband was already functional completely in Jammu since August 5, the order specifies that only the fixed-line internet connectivity (broadband or lease line) where connectivity has been provided from 14th Jan, 2020, social media applications allowing peer to peer communication and Virtual Private Network Application shall be barred. Broadband services to essential services in Kashmir valley were restored on January 15.
Additionally, restricted 2G internet access was restored in entire Jammu province and two North Kashmir districts of Kupwara and Baramulla on post-paid networks. With Friday’s order, this has been extended throughout the Valley.
According to the home department order, the data services shall be available on post-paid mobiles and on pre-paid mobile SIM cards “of such holders whose credentials have been verified as per the norms applicable for the post-paid connections” in all of Jammu and Kashmir. Network speed will be restricted to 2G and only the white-listed websites will be accessible. These restrictions will be reviewed post January 31.
In case of fixed-line connectivity as well, only the 301 whitelisted sites, the list of which has been expanded from previous 153 websites will be restored on January 25.
Until now, the whitelist included 153 websites comprising four emailing sites such as gmail and outlook, 15 banking websites including RBI, J&K Bank, PayPal and Western Union; three employment websites, 38 educational websites including indiaresults, IGNOU and websites for five J&K based universities, three schools and Wikipedia.
In the modified list, however, nearly 55 news websites have been included. These include wbesites of prominent newspapers of Jammu and Kashmir such as Kashmir Times, Daily Excelsior, State Times, Early Times, Kashmir Observer, Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Uzma, Kashmiri Images, Kashmir Age, Rising Kashmir as well as national and international mainstream news websites. Even online news portals such as The Wire, The Print (which has been mentioned twice in the list erroneously), Scroll.in, The Quint, Lallantop and Scoopwhoop have been whitelisted.
However, a plethora of other prominent websites did not make the list whether it is local portals of Jammu and Kashmir such as Kashmir Life, U4U voice, Jammu Links, Straight Line News or mainstream national news websites such as FirstPost, Indian Express, National Herald.
On January 10, calling for a review of the continued internet shutdown in the Valley, the Supreme Court had stated that “freedom of speech and expression through the Internet is an integral part of Article 19(1)(a) and any restriction on it must be in compliance with Article 19(2) of the Constitution.”
The recent order marks the restoration of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir after nearly six months since the dilution of Article 370.