On “trial basis”, govt to ease 4G restrictions in J-K phase-wise

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The Government of India has told the Supreme Court in New Delhi that it will implement a “carefully calibrated easing” of the restrictions on high-speed mobile internet services in Jammu and Kashmir after 15 August as “heightened threat perception” continues till the Independence Day, reported the Wire.

The special committee headed by the home secretary, government of India, had been deliberating on the matter of restoring 4G in Kashmir, says the affidavit filed by the Centre. The committee found that “threat perception on the security front in Jammu and Kashmir continues to be high” and “restrictions are not posing any hindrance to COVID control measures, education programmes or carrying out business activities”, and hence, the situation is not conducive to lifting the restrictions on high-speed internet completely.

In the committee meeting, according to the affidavit, “the pros and cons of multiple options that are available were further considered keeping in mind the security of the nation, the border security, public security, etc.”

The bench of Justices N.V. Ramana, R. Subhash Reddy and B.R. Gavai was hearing a contempt petition filed by the Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP). On 28 July, the Centre had asked for the matter to be adjourned till 7 August, and the bench agreed. 

At the start, the affidavit says, the change from 2G to 4G should be limited to one district each in Jammu division and Kashmir division.

However, “on trial basis”, as per the report, the committee has said that “a carefully calibrated easing of some restrictions in limited and specified geographical areas” can be attempted. These areas would be ones that are “comparatively less sensitive from a national security, internal security, border security and public order standpoint”. No areas near the international border or Line of Control is to be included in this, the affidavit says.

On the intervening night of 4 and 5 August, the government had imposed a communication blackout in Kashmir as it revoked the region’s special status next morning in New Delhi. The blackout was gradually eased, but the restriction on high-speed mobile internet continues till date.

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