Internet services across J&K were completely shut in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019 a…Read More

NEW DELHI: High-speed 4G

internet services

were restored on Friday in the whole of Jammu & Kashmir in view of the “overall security situation” in the Union territory.

Internet services across J&K were completely shut down on August 5, 2019 and subsequently restored at 2G speed.

High-speed 4G internet resumed in two districts –

Ganderbal

in Kashmir region and

Udhampur

in Jammu region — in August last year on a trial basis, while the other 18 districts continued to work with 2G internet with the now-fortnightly orders extending the 4G ban citing different security concerns.

“Keeping in view the advice of the special committee (constituted on advice of the

Supreme Court

) and upon careful review of the overall security scenario, I, principal secretary to the government, home department….hereby revoke the restrictions on mobile data services and fixed line internet connectivity placed vide govt order…dated 22.02.2021, except to the extent that the pre-paid SIM card holders shall be provided access to the internet connectivity only after verification as per the norms applicable for post-paid connections,” said an order issued by the J&K home department.

The order was issued after the special committee took note of the inputs and apprehensions of the security agencies and police forces as also the assessment of opening of high speed mobile internet connectivity in Ganderbal and Udhampur.

A senior official of the security establishment told TOI that the lifting of 4G ban across the entire Union territory has completed the restoration of normalcy post-abrogation of

Article 370

.

“The situation has been peaceful for some time with no popular protests or shutdowns, all political detainees have been released, terrorism levels are down and J&K economy is on its way to revival. The last remnant of curbs imposed since August 5, 2019 was the 4G ban. With the lifting of this too, the journey of J&K to full normalcy shall be complete,” said the officer.

As per data cited by the home ministry in

Parliament

, terrorist attacks in J&K fell 59% from 594 in 2019 to 244 in 2020, while the number of terrorists killed rose from 157 to 221 in the same period.

Officials said the return of 4G internet in the Union territory will bring cheer to the people of J&K who had been complaining of 2G speeds adversely impacting their access to online education necessitated by the pandemic.

Businesses too have borne the brunt of slow internet, particularly IT companies, start-ups and call centres. With the return of high-speed internet, they can resume normal operations.

Also, with new industrial development scheme for J&K, unveiled by LG Manoj Sinha in January 2021, eyeing huge investments in the Union territory by offering a host of incentives, the restoration of 4G services appears to be well-timed.

The protracted 4G ban was a major grievance among the people of J&K, with both PDP and National Conference questioning the motive behind it and slamming it as regressive and authoritarian.

The Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions challenging the 4G ban, had refused to strike it down but suggested to the government to review the same. It was in this context that J&K administration had ordered the restoration of 4G services in Ganderbal and Udhampur on a trial basis in August last year.

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