The Home Department of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has passed another Order, extending the restrictions on internet speed in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir till June 17, 2020.
The Order comes after the Supreme Court had directed for the constitution of a "Special Committee" on 11th May, headed by the Secretary of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, to examine the issues that had been raised by the Petitioners in a plea which sought for restoration of 4G speed internet services in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Supreme Court had stated that:
"...we are of the view that since the issues involved affect the State, and the nation, the Review Committee which consists of only State level officers, may not be in a position to satisfactorily address all the issues raised."
Accordingly, a Special Committee was to be constituted, comprising of Secretaries at the State as well as the National level to "look into the prevailing circumstances and immediately determine the necessity of the continuation of the restrictions in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir".
It is pertinent to note here that the instant Order of extension of internet speed restrictions passed by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir does not mention any possible inputs of the Special Committee that was to be constituted as per directions of the Supreme Court.
The Order goes on to state that during the period between 12th May, 2020 to 27th May, 2020, in a bid to prevent "likelihood of misuse of the data services by the anti-national elements for mobilizing the crowds and creating law and order situation", mobile internet services and even mobile cellular services (voice and SMS), had to be suspended for a limited period of time in specific areas due to a rise in the number of encounters and terror incidents, specifically that of Nawakadal.
The continuation of the restrictions has been justified on the lines that multiple instances of terrorist attacks, which rely upon internet connectivity, have disturbed public order in the UT.
"Whereas there have also been multiple instances of terrorist attacks, including attacks on security forces – leading to even death of the SF personnel, and attempts to encourage terrorism through uploading and circulation of provocative videos and false propaganda – largely relying on internet connectivity, to disturb the public order".
The Order posits that reports suggest that "operatives/anti-national elements" communicate with their handles across the border by using Voice on Internet Protocol (VOIP) and encrypted mobile communication, thereby leading to a rise in infiltration of terrorists in the UT.
It is further stated that these restrictions have not posed any hindrance to COVID-19 control measures, "including use of mobile apps, accessing online educational content or carrying out business activities, but has effectively checked the unfettered misuses of social media for incitement and for propagation and coordination of terror activities".
Therefore, on consideration of the overall security scenario and reports of law enforcement agencies which have "brought out the necessity of speed related restrictions on mobile data services to prevent misuse of internet", the Government of J&K, has ordered for the directions/restrictions to remain in force till 17th June, 2020, unless modified earlier.
Internet speed restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir to continue till June 17. Rise in infiltration, terrorist attacks etc cited as reasons. 2G speed has not affected COVID19 control measures, online education or e-business, the order issued by JK Home Secretary states. pic.twitter.com/JOcIeZeg66— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) May 27, 2020
Internet speed restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir to continue till June 17. Rise in infiltration, terrorist attacks etc cited as reasons. 2G speed has not affected COVID19 control measures, online education or e-business, the order issued by JK Home Secretary states. pic.twitter.com/JOcIeZeg66