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Two J&K districts to get 4G on trial basis after Independence Day

On Tuesday, the Centre's counsel informed the Supreme Court, which is hearing pleas on restoration of 4G in J&K, that the threat perception still remains high and the situation is not conducive for its full restoration.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar |
Updated: August 11, 2020 4:28:10 pm
kashmir social media, J&K internet, J&K facebook, j&k news, jammu and kashmir, j&k internet restoration, kashmir lockdown, kashmir article 370, kashmir special status, kashmir news, indian expressTwo Kashmiris check their phones in Srinagar. (file photo)

The Special Committee set-up by the Supreme Court for restoration of 4G internet services in Jammu and Kashmir has recommended access to high speed internet on “trial basis in a calibrated manner in specified limited areas to assess the impact on the security situation”. To begin with, the Committee has recommended restoration of high speed internet in one district each in Jammu and Kashmir after August 15.

In its second affidavit, filed before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Deputy Secretary (Legal and Constitution in Ministry of Home Affairs Dahrmendra Kumar has said that the special committee suggested that the “overall security situation is still not conducive to lifting the limited restrictions on high speed internet through mobile devices whilst allowing broadband and 2G across the board”.

“The Special committee held its third meeting on 10-8-2020. After considering the views expressed by the security agencies and the local agencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the pros and cons of multiple options that are available were further considered keeping in mind the security of the nation, the border security, public security etc,” the affidavit reads. “It is submitted that the Committee was of the considered view that the threat perception on the security front in Jammu and Kashmir continues to be high. It was also of the view that internet speed related restrictions are not posing any hindrance to COVID control measures, access to education programmes or carrying out business activities”.

The Committee has, however, made a case for restoration of high speed internet on “trial basis” and in “limited areas” and submitted a set of seven recommendations in the affidavit submitted before the apex court.

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The recommendations are:

  • Access to high speed internet could be provided on a trial basis in a calibrated manner to specified limited areas to assess the impact on the security scenario.
  • Any opening on trial basis should not be in any areas adjoining to the international border/ Line of Control (LoC).
  • The area should have low intensity of terrorist activities and minimal spill over effects on neighbouring areas.
  •  The impact of the trial should be assessed by the State Level Committee periodically but at least once ins even working days
  • The central committee will review the outcome of the trial after a period of two months or before that is so required.
  • The relaxation from 2G to 4G should be limited for the present to one district each in Jammu and Kashmir divisions so that both regions of UT are covered.
  • Keeping in view the heightened threat perception, these relaxations would come into effect after 15-08-2020.

Last week, the apex court asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to clarify its stance, by August 11, on requests for restoring 4G mobile internet services in the region.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that there will be no more adjournment after that.

On July 28, the bench had asked the SG to clarify a reported statement of the then J&K Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu favouring the restoration of 4G in Kashmir.

The Indian Express had reported on July 26 that the J&K administration has told the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that it does not have any objection to restoring 4G internet services.

“We have been making (a) representation for this… I feel that 4G will not be a problem. I am not afraid (of) how people will use this. Pakistan will do its propaganda, whether it is 2G or 4G. It will always be there… But I don’t see an issue,” Murmu had told The Indian Express.

This was a change in the earlier position taken by the J&K administration two months ago in May.

Murmu resigned as L-G August 5 and was appointed as the new Comptroller and Auditor General. He has been replaced by BJP leader and former Minister Manoj Sinha.

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