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Mobile internet, voice calling suspended in Srinagar: Report

Mobile internet and voice calls have been suspended in Srinagar city, except on BSNL postpaid SIM cards, as a precautionary measure, reports the Indian Express. The suspension was ordered following an encounter with militants in Srinagar’s Nawakadal area, which had begun last night, per the report. The Jammu & Kashmir Police confirmed that fire was exchanged last night, and that the operation continued until morning.

We were unable to immediately reach officials in the Jammu & Kashmir Home Department  which issues the internet shutdown orders — for details.

Mobile internet services in Jammu & Kashmir have been restricted to 2G since March 2020. Before that, the territory had been under a seven-month communications blackout, which was lifted in January after the Supreme Court’s intervention. A new petition in the Supreme Court, filed by Foundation for Media Professionals and others, did not result in restoration of 4G services, despite the pandemic. A “special committee” led by the Union Home Secretary, formed on orders of the Supreme Court, will now examine the issues raised by petitioners and if alternatives suggested by them are viable. Read more about that here.

Internet has been suspended multiple times during COVID-19 lockdown

The administration has suspended even 2G mobile internet multiple times in different parts of the territory. So far, the territory has spent the entire 56-day lockdown  which has brought widespread disruption of lives  on 2G internet. Jammu & Kashmir has 1,289 cases of COVID-19 so far, with 88% of the cases being from the Kashmir Valley. Almost all internet shutdowns in April and May have been ordered in Kashmir Valley (see below).

Most recently, internet, voice, and SMS services were snapped in the entire Kashmir Valley for six days followed the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Riyaz Naikoo. The following is a list of internet suspensions in different parts of the territory.

  • May 6: Internet, voice, and SMS services suspended in all of Kashmir Valley, which has 10 districts, following an encounter in Awantipora. 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.
  • 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 Kulgam 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

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