16 April 2020 3:12 AM GMT
The Jammu and Kashmir Home Department issued a fresh order on Wednesday to extend the existing restrictions on internet speed till April 27.Mobile internet has been restricted to 2G speed in J&K since January 15, when the internet shutdown imposed on August 5 was partially lifted by the administration following the Supreme Court's order in Anuradha Bhasin case."While these restrictions...
The Jammu and Kashmir Home Department issued a fresh order on Wednesday to extend the existing restrictions on internet speed till April 27.
Mobile internet has been restricted to 2G speed in J&K since January 15, when the internet shutdown imposed on August 5 was partially lifted by the administration following the Supreme Court's order in Anuradha Bhasin case.
"While these restrictions have not posed any hindrance to COVID-19 control measures, they have reduced incidents of misuse of social media by way of uploading and circulation of provocative audio/video content, fake news, rumour mongering, coordination of terror activities and other such acts that rely upon high speed mobile connectivitiy", said the order issued by Shaleen Kabra IAS, Principal Secretary to Home Department, J&K Government.
The order referred to reports of law enforcement agencies regarding usage of social media for circulation of photographs of terrorists and for mobilizing crowds and also to the instance of over 500 villagers gathering to attend the funeral of a slain terrorist defying the lockdown.
"Taking note of misuse of social media applications in terror activities and also in adversely impacting public order, it is apparent that there is need for continuation of speed restrictions on mobile internet services", stated the order, invoking powers under Section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act and Rule 2 of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules 2017.
The order also clarified that only verified pre-paid subscribers can access mobile internet.
In the previous order issued on April 3 extending the restrictions till April 15, the Department had also stated that the speed restrictions have not hindered "access to online educational content".
Last week, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the Centre and J&K Government on a PIL seeking restoration of 4G internet services in the area during the lockdown period.
At 2G mobile internet speeds, the patients, doctors, and the general public of Jammu & Kashmir are unable to access the latest information, guidelines, advisories, stated the plea filed by "Foundation of Media Professionals".
The PIL petitioner filed a fresh application on Wednesday seeking to bring on record empirical and anecdotal evidence regarding impact of speed curbs on the life of ordinary people in J&K.
An affidavit containing "individual narratives of hardships faced by doctors, teachers, students, journalists, lawyers and business persons in Jammu and Kashmir due to denial of 4G internet services" was produced along with the application.
The Central government had imposed a complete communications blackout in the erstwhile state of J&K in August 2019, right after abrogation of Article 370. Five months later in January 2020, on the basis of a Supreme Court order, the services were partially restored, only at 2G speed for mobile users. Access was provided only to a selected "white-listed" sites, and social media was completely blocked.
The Supreme Court had observed that indefinite suspension of internet is not permissible and restrictions on internet have to follow the principles of proportionality under Article 19(2).
The blockade on social media was lifted on March 4, but the speed was retained as 2G for mobile data.
Click here to download order