Curbs eased, but here is why the social media is still out of bounds in J&K
Jammu, Jan 15: Mobile internet services and broadband services have been partially restored on Wednesday in parts of Jammu and Kashmir, after the administration's home department allowed so for white-listed websites and institutions dealing with essential services. The order will be effective from January 15 and will remain in force for 7 days, unless modified earlier. However, the order said there will be complete restriction on social media applications that may facilitate 'peer to peer communication'.
The J&K administration had allowed 2G mobile connectivity in five districts of Jammu region and partially restore broadband internet facilities in Kashmir Valley.
In a three-page order, issued by Shaleen Kabra, Principal Secretary, Home Department, said that the police authorities have brought to notice material relating to the terror modules operating in the UT of J&K, including handlers from across the border, and activities of separatists/ anti-national elements within who are attempting to aid and incite people by transmission of fake news and targeted messages through use of internet to propagate terrorism, indulge in rumour-mongering, support fallacious proxy wars, spread propaganda/ideologies, and cause disaffection and discontent.
The order also said that based on the intelligence inputs and assessment of the law and order situation obtaining on ground,"the law enforcement agencies have inter-alia reported about the sustained efforts being made by the terrorists to infiltrate from across the border, re-activate their cadres and scale up anti-national activities in Kashmir Division as well as terrorism affected areas of the Jammu Division, by communicating effectively with their operatives through Voice on Internet Protocol (VOIP) and encrypted mobile communication through various social media applications to co ordinate and plan terror acts."
It also stated that the misuse of data services by anti-national elements has the potential to cause large scale violence and disturb public order which has till now been maintained due to various pre-emptive measures, including restrictions on access to Internet with relaxations in a calibrated and gradual manner, after due consideration of the ground situation.
Taking into account the ground situation and after considering the available alternative measures, in light of the reports of the authorized officers, Principal Secretary, Home Department, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the sub-rule (1) of rule 2 of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Sendees (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017 hereby direct the existing access/ communication facilities indicated in the para 4 above shall continue and the Divisional Administration Kashmir shall additionally establish 400 internet kiosks in Kashmir division.
Earlier on January 10, the Supreme Court had ordered the restoration of Internet for all essential services in Jammu and Kashmir.
Internet connectivity has remained suspended in Kashmir valley since August 5 when Union Home Minister Amit Shah had moved two Bills in the Rajya Sabha to revoke the special status of J&K under Article 370 and downgrade and bifurcate the State into Union Territories.
The apex Court had made harsh observation on the J&K administration for snapping Internet services, which the apex court said was a fundamental right of the people.
The Court had also directed the three-member Review Committee constituted under Rule 2(5) of the Telecom Suspension Rules to review the existing shutdown orders within a period of seven days. Therefore, the present order cannot 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. 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.
You can also read the full order here:
Internet Restoration in J&K ordered by J&K Home Department. pic.twitter.com/cRG1n2Zvcl— DIPR-J&K (@diprjk) January 14, 2020