After 18 months timeline, 4G internet services have been restored in J&K. Highspeed 4G internet services were restored in entire Jammu and Kashmir on Friday night in view of the “overall security situation” in the Union Territory being stable. The restoration took place nearly one-and-a-half years after they were snapped in view of concerns arising out of nullification of Article 370.
When Was It Started
On 5th August 2019 Modi Government abolished the Special status of J&K and also bifurcated the former State into Union Territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. In the view of security concerns in the region after Article 370 was abrogated by the Central government suspended 4G services in the UT. The government of India barred all mobile internet services in the region to prevent the deliberately fabricated falsehood on social media.
Reasons For Ban On 4G
A Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana, hearing the case directed J&K Administration to spell out every reason why they are averse to restoring 4G in the Union Territory. To which Attorney General K.K. Venugopal cited militancy as a major hurdle in restoring 4G in the Valley. The Government defended itself by saying doing so was necessary “in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state and for maintaining public order”.
The J&K government also said that restoration of high-speed internet could, among other things, lead to the spread of “fake news and targeted messages”, “propagate terrorism,” lead people to “indulge in rumor-mongering, support fallacious proxy wars, spread propaganda,” and cause “disaffection and discontent.
Problems Caused By 4G Ban
While students amid the Covid-19 pandemic are taking classes online, they have demanded to restore 4G completely in J&K. According to a plea filed in Supreme Court about 2,200 schools are unable to hold classes and the future of 27 lakh students is at risk. On the other hand, the center said that it cannot overlook terrorist attacks in J&K and the question of national security. According to the Union Ministry, 2G internet services are enough to take online classes and to access educational apps. The students who study in different states are back to their homes in J&K and the situation has become much worse.
Also, the persistent ban on high-speed internet services in Jammu and Kashmir is hurting business people who are using social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to advertise their business. The ban on high-speed internet services in Jammu and Kashmir have led to their sales dropping sharply.
The ban on 4G internet has made it difficult for people in the tourism and IT sectors to work from home. Several doctors also said that given the restrictions on the internet services “accessing or posting the videos about the disease was not possible”.
Revival Of 2G Services
According to a notification issued by the home department of the Jammu and Kashmir administration, access to the internet with 2G speed on mobile phones was resumed from January 25, 2020. After remaining shut for more than five months, 2G mobile internet services on postpaid as well as prepaid phones will be restored in the UT but can only be used to access 301 websites approved by the Jammu and Kashmir administration. The sites approved include search engines and those associated with banking, education, news, travel, utilities, and employment.
Different Opinions On 4G Ban
President JKAP Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari said “it was unfortunate that people were still being denied the right to use high-speed internet.” “The trial for the restoration of 4G internet service in two districts has gone quite smoothly. If the experimental basis of 4G restoration didn’t pose any problems, then why to deny students and business community 4G now,” Bukhari added.
NC Vice President Omar Abdullah took it to Twitter. Omar said “Has there been any adverse fallout in Udhampur or Ganderbal after 4G connectivity was restored? If the security parameters have remained the same & not worsened then 4G should be restored across the entire J&K. 4G was alleged to be linked to increased anti-India propaganda”.
PDP General Secretary said, “We tried raising the genuine demands of the people which they face due to internet suspension but were not even allowed to hold a peaceful protest”.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) J&K general secretary Ashok Kaul said the suspension of 4G by the authorities “was only after they were compelled due to its misuse by certain elements.”
4G Restoration In 2 Districts
On 14 August 2020, 4G services were restored in the Ganderbal district of Kashmir and the Udhampur district of Jammu. The services were resumed on a trial basis and it was the first time high-speed internet returned to the newly formed UT. After the abrogation of the special status of J&K, the central government had banned the Internet services which were restored to 2G and then to 4g in 2 districts only. The 4G services were resumed in both the districts after the recommendation of the panel which was set-up by the Supreme Court to review the restrictions and security situation in the Union Territory.
Broadband Penetration In The UT
Since the suspension of 4G services in the UT people are aggressively acquiring broadband connections. The number of fixed-line connections in Jammu and Kashmir is estimated to have nearly doubled from 80,000 in 2019 to around 1.5 lakh in early 2021. Jammu and Kashmir accounted for 59 lakh broadband subscribers in 2019. Before that, the number of fixed-line subscribers was a small fraction i.e 80,000, according to the Telecom Statistics Report of the Ministry of Communications.
A sight of hope to 4G internet restoration in J&K
Since 18 months have passed without high-speed internet in the UT but according to the J&K BJP President Ravinder Raina 4G Services will be resumed in the UT in the coming 10 days.
While talking to the media Raina Said “I have been talking with the Home Minister and he’s asked the J&K Government to resume 4G services in the UT. Earlier there were security issues but now our intelligence agencies have opted for measures to tackle the disturbing elements. People of J&K can expect 4G services by 7-10 days”.
After 18 months, 4G internet services restored in J&K
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on February 5 restored high-speed mobile Internet, first time since August 5, 2019, when the Centre ended the special status of the erstwhile State.
“Keeping in view the advice of a special committee and upon careful review of the overall security situation, the Home department hereby revokes the restrictions on mobile data services and fixed line Internet. Prepaid SIM card holders will also be provided services only after the verification as per the norms applicable,” said Shaleen Kabra, Principal Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir Home department.
LG, JKAP thank PM; Omar says better late than never
“I thank the Hon”ble PM @narendramodi Ji and HM @AmitShah Ji for acceding to our request and restoring 4G services in the entire J&K UT. The move will fulfil the aspirations of the people, particularly the youth,” the office of LG J&K said in a tweet.
I thank the Hon’ble PM @narendramodi Ji and HM @AmitShah Ji for acceding to our request and restoring 4G services in the entire J&K UT. The move will fulfil the aspirations of the people, particularly the youth.
— Office of LG J&K (@OfficeOfLGJandK) February 5, 2021
Vice -president of the National Conference (NC), Omar Abdullah said in a tweet, “4G Mubarak! For the first time since Aug 2019 all of J&K will have 4G mobile data. Better late than never.”
4G Mubarak! For the first time since Aug 2019 all of J&K will have 4G mobile data. Better late than never.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) February 5, 2021
Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) chief Altaf Bukhari also welcomed the move, terming it as a positive development.
Altaf Bukhari extends gratitude to the Prime Minister for restoring the 4G mobile internet services.
Terming it as a positive development for students and the youth of J&K, Bukhari thanked the PM for fulfilling this demand of people of J&K.
— Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (@Apnipartyonline) February 5, 2021