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Internet services partially restored in Jammu & Kashmir: Report

Internet services were partially restored in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of Eid on August 12, Indiatimes reported. Internet services were snapped in the region on August 4, a day before Home Minister Amit Shah moved a resolution in the Rajya Sabha to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution that provides special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The state, as a result of tumult on its status at the Centre, has been experiencing a total communications blackout since August 4, when landline, cellphone and cable TV services were also suspended.

The government partially restored internet and phone services reportedly to facilitate Friday prayers for Eid. After the initial shutdown in Kashmir, internet services were also interrupted in Kargil a few days later, after protests against revocation of Article 370 broke out in the region.

The Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal said that prohibitory conditions had been further relaxed in parts of Kashmir, while Jammu was almost entirely free of restriction, India Today reported.

This was the 51st shutdown in the state in just 2019. The country has witnessed a total of 71 shutdowns in 2019.

Petitions against communications blackout in Kashmir

At least two petitions are being heard in the Supreme Court against the communications blackout in Kashmir, while another was dismissed.

The first, by Kashmir Times’ executive editor Anuradha Bhasin, sought direction to the Centre and J&K officials to immediately relax restrictions on internet, mobile and landline services in Kashmir and parts of Jammu. The SC admitted this petition.

The second petition was filed by Tehseen Poonawalla seeking withdrawal restrictions on phone lines, internet news channels, and of curfew and other restriction in Jammu and Kashmir. The Statesman reported that at the hearing on this petition on August 13, the Supreme Court said that the central government required time to bring back normalcy in the Valley as nothing could be done overnight. The Court refused to pass any immediate directions to the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government on a plea seeking lifting of all restrictions imposed after the reading down of Article 370, The Wire reported. The matter will be heard in two weeks.

Last week, the apex court had reportedly refused an urgent hearing on a plea filed seeking withdrawal of restrictions in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The petition argues that the state was witnessing undeclared curfew/restrictions, arbitrary arrests, shutdown of phone services and snapping of internet and blocking of cable TV having news channels.

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