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Internet shutdown in J&K had no impact on COVID-19 measures, education, businesses: Home Ministry

Kashmir map, internet
Credit: Aditi Agrawal

Throttling internet speeds to 2G has not impeded COVID-19 control measures, including accesses to information for general public and health workers, administration of justice, or education in Jammu and Kashmir, Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy claimed in Lok Sabha on Sunday. He said that e-learning apps and websites of the government of India and government of Jammu and Kashmir “are accessible over 2G internet for downloading e-books and other study material”. Reddy was answering a question raised by Congress MP Uttam Kumar Reddy Nalamada (Nalgonda, Telangana) who wanted to know the economic loss caused by the internet blockade and its impact on services such as healthcare, education, and access to justice. The government did not give any concrete figures for the economic impact of the internet shutdown; it just said, “businesses have had access to internet through fixed line connectivity and internet kiosks opened in large numbers across the Valley without any speed restrictions”. All means of communication were snapped in Jammu and Kashmir on August 4 midnight, a day before the central government abrogated Article 370 that granted special status to the erstwhile state, and created to union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — instead. It is at the end of January 2020 that fixed line services (with Mac-binding, but no speed restrictions) and 2G mobile data services were restored. However, access was limited to a whitelist of 301 websites and access to social media sites was enabled only in March. 4G internet…

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