After being suspended for almost two years, 4G internet services will finally be restored in the entire Jammu and Kashmir, J&K administration principal secretary Rohit Kansal announced on Twitter, on Friday.
Subsequently, the Jammu and Kashmir Home Department revoked the restrictions on internet connectivity, after almost 550 days of suspension i.e., since 5 August 2019. The latest order is said to be on the basis of the advice of the Special Committee, which was constituted as per the directions of the Supreme Court in the judgment in the Foundation of Media Professionals Case, following its meeting held on February 4.
As per the order, prepaid SIM cardholders shall be provided access to the internet connectivity only after verification as per norms applicable for post-paid connections, an official notification stated.
“Keeping in view the advice of the Special Committee and upon careful review of the overall security scenario, I, Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department [Competent Authority under sub-rule (1) of Rule 2 of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, hereby revoke the restrictions on mobile data services and fixed-line internet connectivity placed vide Government Order No. Home-02 (TSTS) of 2021 dated 22.01.2021, except to the extent that the prepaid SIM cardholders shall be provided access to the internet connectivity only after verification as per norms applicable for post-paid connections,” the official notification read.
Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah reacted to the news of the resumption of 4G internet in the union territory stating “4G Mubarak! For the first time since Aug 2019, all of J&K will have 4G mobile data. Better late than never.”
In August 2019, right after the abrogation of special status Article 370, the Central government had imposed a complete communications blackout in the erstwhile state of J&K. Five months later in January 2020, on the basis of a Supreme Court order in the Anuradha Bhasin case, the services were partially restored, only at 2G speed for mobile users. Access was provided only to selected ‘white-listed’ sites, and social media was completely blocked.
Later, on 10 January 2020, the Supreme Court held that indefinite suspension of the internet is not permissible and restrictions on the internet have to follow the principles of proportionality under Article 19(2). Further, the blockade on social media was lifted on 4 March 2020, but the speed was retained as 2G for mobile data.
On 16 August 2020, the Central government had told the Supreme Court that a special committee looking into the issue of internet restoration in Jammu and Kashmir was considering allowing 4G internet access on a trial basis in the Union Territory. It further restored 4G internet services in two districts – Ganderbal (Kashmir division) and Udhampur (Jammu division), and the denial of high-speed internet in the other 18 districts was being extended from time to time, citing the risk of terrorism.