After a wait of almost two years, the time has come for Srinagar and Budgam districts to finally experience the luxury of 4G internet services.
According to Asian News Network report, this will be the first time when the localities of the two districts will effectively avail high-speed internet that was suspended after restrictions were clamped in the Valley following the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two union territories on August 5, 2019.
High-powered panel to take call on restoration
The restoration of 4G services will be done as per the recommendation of a panel constituted by the Supreme Court of India to review the restrictions vis-à-vis the security situation in the Union Territory, reports have said.
Sources informed the channel that the high-level committee has decided that the restoration of 4G service in these two districts will be reportedly done on a trial basis by today evening or tomorrow while the rest of the 16 districts in the Union Territory will continue to have 2G services.
On May 11, last year, a three-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana had set up a special committee led by Union Home Secretary to take a call on the issue after conducting a wide-ranging assessment of the security situation in the sensitive region. Besides, the Union Home Secretary, DoT Secretary and Chief Secretary of J-K are also part of the panel.
A benchmark to measure the level of improvement
The restoration of the 4G network seems to have become a new benchmark in Jammu and Kashmir to measure the level of improvement in the security situation. On the intervening night of August 4 and 5, all communication channels were snapped over fear of widespread protests because of the stripping of the special status.
However, the services were restored only in Ganderbal and Udhampur districts of the Union Territory last September. In areas outside these two districts, authorities suspended the services citing apprehensions about possible misuse by those indulging in terror activities.
In an order issued September 9, 2020, Principal Secretary in the Home Department Shaleen Kabra said that after a fresh review of the situation, it has been decided that internet speed shall remain restricted to 2G in the rest of the 18 districts of the Union Territory.
The Hindustan Times cited a copy of the order which said that the law enforcement agencies have furnished credible inputs on terror modules making sustained efforts to provoke sentiments of gullible youths and lure them into terrorist organisations and "indicated potential misuse of high-speed data services in disturbing public order".
The 2G internet facility on mobile phones was only restored on January 25 this year. People in Srinagar and rest of Kashmir are habituated of using slow broadband services for online purposes.
The Valley in the past has witnessed a long history of communication blockade due to political repression and atrocities.