Internet partially restored in Kashmir after 165 days - social media still blocked

J&K Broadband internet partially restored but ban on social media remains

The order said that the institutions and government offices being provided internet access will be responsible to prevent any misuse.

The institutions that would be given internet access will include "government websites and websites dealing with essential services, e banking etc", the order said.

Kansal said in light of the constitutional changes made in relation to Jammu and Kashmir in August past year, a number of restrictions were imposed to prevent externally aided terrorists from disturbing peace and inflicting casualties on citizens.

Existing access and communication facilities in Kashmir will be further enhanced by establishing an additional 400 internet kiosks, Kansal said.

"2G mobile connectivity on post-paid mobiles for accessing white-listed sites, including for e-banking, shall be allowed, to begin with, in the districts of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reading", the order states.

The SC had declared that freedom of speech and expression and also freedom of of trade and commerce through the medium of internet are constitutionally protected rights under Articles 19 (1)(a) and Articles 19 (1)(g), respectively.

All mobile and broadband internet connections have been suspended in Kashmir since 5 August, when the BJP government, led by Narendra Modi, revoked the decades-long special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which had given the region autonomy, and split the state into two territories under the direct control of Delhi.

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However, quoting the official announcement, ND TV news said that social networking sites, however, would remain under complete restriction.

In a significant development, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory are mulling to restore internet services, though partially, from January 15 (Wednesday), sources in the J&K administration said.

"Broadband facility is being restored to get essential services functioning properly and tourism restarted".

" "...they shall take all the necessary precautions, including appointment of nodal officers, keeping a record of persons/devices, managing and monitoring day to day usage, changing accessibility credentials on a daily basis..." There is no mention of the services being restored to media organisations or to the general public in the Valley.

"The aforesaid directions shall be effective from January 15, 2020, and remain in force for a period of seven days, unless modified earlier". These shall supersede all the orders earlier issued on the subject.

Internet is to be partially restored in Kashmir after an unprecedented five-month blackout, but only for institutions providing "essential services", while social media sites will still be banned. Therefore, the present order can not be described as one issued in furtherance of the SC direction, as the same is an "original order" issued by the Principal Secretary in exercise of powers under Section 5 (2) of the Telegraph Act and Rule 2 (1) of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services Rules 2017.

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