Citing gathering at Sopore militant’s funeral, govt extends ban on 4G

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Srinagar: Authorities on Wednesday extended till April 27 ban on high speed internet, saying it has reduced incidents of misuse of social media and there is no hindrance to COVID-19 control measures due to 2G services.

“Pursuant to the directions related to regulation of telecom services, issued on 3rd April 2020, the overall Security Scenario in the Union Territory of J-K has been reviewed, more specifically with reference to the reports of the law enforcement agencies which have, among other things, brought out the usage of social media applications for circulation of photographs of (militants) of proscribed (militant) organizations and for mobilizing crowds, one such instance being when more than 500 villagers gathered to attend funeral of a (militant), defying the lock-down and throwing social-distancing norms to the wind,” the order issued by J-K’s home department reads.

It said Pakistan based militant outfits are leaving no stone unturned to exploit the present situation as seen by recent infiltration attempts, which also caused security forces’ causalities. “There have also been many instances of civilian killings by (militants), attacks on Security forces, recoveries of arms/ ammunitions, attempt to propagate terrorism through uploading of videos, coordinating infiltration from across the border, launch of new terror outfits, etc., during this period.”

As on date, it said, access to internet is available through fixed line without any speed restrictions. However, in respect of mobile internet, speed has been restricted to 2G.

“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 militant activities and other such acts that rely upon high speed mobile connectivity,” it said.

Upon consideration of the available inputs, and taking note of ‘misuse’ of social media applications in militant activities as also in adversely impacting public order, the order said that it is apparent that there is need for continuation of the speed restrictions on mobile internet services.

Subsequently the Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department, ordered that the internet speed shall be restricted to 2G only.

“While the postpaid sim cardholders shall continue to be provided access to the internet, these services shall not be made available on pre-paid sim cards unless verified as per the norms applicable for post-paid connections,” the order said, adding, “The directions shall be effective from 16.04.2020 and remain in force till 27.04.2020 unless modified earlier.” (GNS)

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