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Mobile internet to remain restricted to 2G in Jammu & Kashmir until June 17

Mobile internet in Jammu & Kashmir will remain restricted to 2G speeds at least until June 17, the administration said in an order yesterday. The government has cited the Nawakadal encounter in Srinagar, multiple instances of terrorist acts, and possible increase in attacks due to the onset of summer. Terrorist activities are facilitated via VOIP and encrypted mobile communication, which are used by “anti-national elements” to communicate with their handlers across the border, the order said.

The order also claimed that internet speed restrictions have not posed any hindrance to COVID-19 control measures, including use of mobile apps, accessing online education content, or carrying out business, but it “has effectively checked the use of social media for propagation and coordination of terror activities”. However, students living in Kashmir are experiencing difficulties in accessing online classes, as Rest of World highlighted in this piece.

Prepaid SIM card holders will have to adhere to verification norms for postpaid cards, and broadband internet will be available with mac-binding. The restrictions were extended until May 27 on May 11.

The administration has suspended even 2G mobile internet multiple times in different parts of the territory. So far, the territory has spent the entire 2-month lockdown  which has brought widespread disruption of lives  on 2G internet. Jammu & Kashmir has 1,921 cases of COVID-19 so far, with 80% of the cases being from the Kashmir Valley. Almost all internet shutdowns in April and May have been ordered in Kashmir Valley (see below).

The following is a list of internet suspensions in May 2020, in different parts of the territory.

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  • May 25: 2G suspended in Kulgam and Shopian districts from 8:15 am to 11:45 pm, following an encounter in Kulgam’s Khud Hanjipora area
  • May 19-22: 2G services were suspended in Srinagar district from 2:30 am on May 19 to 7:10 pm on May 22. At 3:50 am on May 19, voice & SMS services, except for BSNL, were also suspended in the district until 10 pm.
  • 2G suspended in Pulwama district from 4:10 pm on May 19 to 4:40 pm on May 20, following the same encounter
  • May 14: 2G suspended in Kulgam district from 12:30 am to 12:10 pm, following an encounter in Yamrach Yaripora area
  • May 13-14: 2G suspended in Budgam District in Kashmir from 11:30 am on May 13 to 1:55 pm on May 14, following the killing of a person in the district’s Narbal Kawoosa area
  • May 6: Internet, voice, and SMS services suspended in all of Kashmir Valley, which has 10 districts, following an encounter in Awantipora. Services were suspended at 9 am (per this notice) or 2:10 pm (per this notice) on May 6. 2G was finally restored in all districts, except for Pulwama and Shopian, on May 11, i.e. after six days. 2G finally restored in Pulwama and Shopian on May 13 i.e. after eight days.
  • May 5: 2G suspended in Ramban district of Jammu
  • May 6-7: 2G suspended in Awantipora police district from 6:50 am on May 6 for 24 hours, following an encounter in Awantipora’s Shar Khrew area
  • May 5: 2G suspended in Handwara Police district at 2:30 am to 7:30 pm on May 5, following an encounter in Wanigam Karlgund area of the district
  • May 3-4: 2G suspended in Handwara Police district from 4:20 pm on May 2 until 4 pm on May 3, following an encounter in Chanjmullah area of the district. This order was extended on May 3, and 2G was suspended until 10 pm on May 3.
  • May 2-3: 2G suspended in Pulwama district from 8 am to 6 pm on May 2. This was extended until 4 pm on May 3.

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Internet Shutdowns are a disproportionate act of censorship of freedom of expression, and their deployment by various regimes takes place on an ad-hoc basis....

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