2G mobile internet, the maximum bandwidth available in Kashmir, was suspended in the entire valley today, after Hizbul Mujahideen’s commander Riyaz Naikoo and another militant were trapped in an encounter with security forces in Pulwama district, reports The Hindu. The internet suspension was a precautionary measure.

There have been at least 12 instances of internet suspension ever since the nationwide lockdown for coronavirus was imposed on March 25.

  • April 27: Suspended in Anantnag district from 8 am to 6 pm, following an encounter in adjoining district of Kulgam
  • April 27: Suspended in Kulgam district from 9:30 pm to 6 pm [Editor: the next day], following an encounter in Guddar area in Kulgam
  • April 25: Suspended in Kulgam district and police district of Awantipora from 4:45 am to 6 pm. This was following an encounter in Goripora in Awantipora.
  • April 22: Suspended in Anantnag district from 8 am to 6 pm, following the same encounter in Shopian
  • April 21-22: 2G suspended in Shopian district from 11:15 pm on April 21 until 6 pm the next day. This was following an encounter in Melhora village in the district.
  • April 18: 2G internet suspended in Shopian district from 6:45 am to 5:30 pm
  • April 11: Suspended in Kulgham district from 2:30 am to 5:30 pm
  • April 10: Suspended in Kupwara district from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm
  • April 7-8: Suspended in Sopore district from 11:30 am until 5 pm of April 8
  • April 4 & 5: Suspended in Kulgam district from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm on April 4; and from 10 am to 5 pm the next day

2G internet was allowed in J&K after a 7-month communications blackout by the Indian government, following the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year. Mobile internet services were restored in the union territory at 2G speeds last month. Even this came after multiple whitelists allowing a limited number of websites — up to 1,600 per the last whitelist — were issued, upon the Supreme Court’s direction. Prepaid connections are allowed, but will require the kind of KYC verification usually done for postpaid connections.

SC reserves judgment in petition seeking 4G restoration

The Supreme Court had on Monday reserved judgment on a batch of petitions seeking restoration of 4G internet in Jammu & Kashmir, given the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown. The J&K administration and the Union government both argued that restoring 4G will lead to a surge in terrorist activities. One of the petitioners, Foundation for Media Professionals, argued that there is need to “enhance technology and connectivity” because of the lockdown, reported Bar & Bench.

Foundation for Media Professionals had sought restoration of 4G speeds, citing difficulties in access to online classes and accurate information, in delivery of healthcare in the territory, and the inability to “work from home” due to slow internet speeds, in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and lockdown. Doctors are struggling to download latest studies, protocols, manuals and advisories on treatment and management of COVID-19, the organisation had said. Telemedicine and online education are impossible to carry out on 2G speeds, and the public’s access to information is impeded.

The Foundation for Media Professionals filed an application bringing on record individual narratives from doctors, teachers, students etc. and, a comparative technical analysis of functioning of websites at 2G speed and 4G speed.