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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Internet ban to be lifted from Jammu & Kashmir on 1 Jan 2020

Internet services were stopped in Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August before the parliament repealed Article 370 to pre-empt terrorist attacks

With the start of the year 2020, Internet services will be restarted in all government hospitals in Kashmir. In addition, all types of mobile SMS services will resume. The relaxation will come into effect in the midnight of 31 December, informed Rohit Kansal, the official spokesman of Jammu and Kashmir.

On 10 December, SMS services for some mobile phones were started. This facility was introduced for the convenience of students, those applying for scholarships, merchants and others.

Kansal said it had been decided that the Internet service in entire Kashmir would resume from the midnight of 31 December.

Internet services were stopped in Kashmir on 5 August even before the Union Home Minister announced the removal of Article 370 to pre-empt terrorist attacks, as Internet aids communication between militants and their handlers. After this announcement, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was divided into two union territories: Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh became two separate union territories on 31 October.

The period since 5 August has been relatively calm, with no major terror activity reported from Kashmir. Yet, by the end of that very month, Jammu and Kashmir authorities while making 10 more telephone exchanges operational in the Valley, had to snap services of one of the 17 centres based on intelligence reports that landline phones were being used for spreading misinformation campaign. Around 28,000 fixed-line phones, out of around 50,000 in the Valley, were still functional.

Even in Jammu, low-speed Internet services turned intermittent. Once in August, it was found that a video clip with the potential to trigger communal tension was circulating on social media.

Last week, mobile Internet services were started in the Kargil district of Ladakh. These services were started in Kargil after a ban of 145 days after the virtual abrogation of Article 370 of the constitution. Thereafter, landline phone services were gradually introduced first. Then, post-paid mobile services were started. However, pre-paid mobile and internet services are yet to resume in the entire valley.

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