Home Minister Amit Shah said that internet services in Jammu & Kashmir — which have been suspended for over 100 days — would be restored when the territory’s administration thinks it fit to do so. Shah did not clarify when internet services in the union territory — erstwhile a state — would be restored, stating that “when it is the matter of India’s security, Kashmir valley and its people’s security, and a fight against terrorism, we have to set our priorities”. Shah said this in response to a question asked in Rajya Sabha on November 20. He added that:
“Our neighbours remain quite active in Kashmir. Internet has been snapped keeping in mind the security and law and order situation there [Jammu & Kashmir].”
The question to Shah was raised by Congress MPs Ghulam Nabi Azad and . Azad said not having access to internet for 3.5 months has never happened anywhere in the world. “Our neighbours have existed since 1947. We’ve fought several wars with them, the problem of terrorism has been going on for the last 30 years. I have been the chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir, and during my time, the most that internet remained suspended was for a day. But, not having access to internet for 3.5 months has never happened anywhere in the world ever. This is affecting education and healthcare in Jammu & Kashmir” Azad said.
Following Azad’s remarks, the Home Minister acknowledged that ” [the] internet is an important tool for communication today, and services should be reinstated as soon as possible”. However, in a patronising response thereon, he said that mobile phones were first introduced in Jammu & Kashmir in 2003 for the first time by the then BJP government, and internet services were allowed in Kashmir only in 2002. “As soon as administration in Kashmir thinks that internet services can be restored, we’ll think about it,” the minister added.
Internet services were snapped in Jammu & Kashmir on August 4, a day before Shah moved a resolution in the Rajya Sabha to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution that provided special status to Jammu & Kashmir.