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Internet restored in parts of Kashmir after being blocked amid spate of civilian killings

Internet shutdowns in India have been heavily debated ever since it was snapped in J&K after the abrogation of Article 370.

Internet was shut down in parts of Kashmir as a precautionary measure on October 18, according to a report by The NewsMinute. Aakash Hassan, a Kashmir-based independent journalist, confirmed to MediaNama that mobile internet services were restored on October 19 after being suspended in many areas of the valley.

Jammu and Kashmir have seen one of the world’s longest (552 days) internet shutdowns which led to pleas challenging the restrictions and the Supreme Court declaring that access to the internet is a fundamental right. The apex court had further asked magistrates signing off on internet shutdown orders to ‘apply their mind’ and ‘follow the doctrine of proportionality’.

Read MediaNama’s ground reports on the impact of internet shutdowns in Kashmir here and here.

Where were internet services restricted?

According to reports, internet access was restricted in –

  • Srinagar district: Anchar, Eidgah, Qamarwari, Soura, Maharajgunj, Nowhatta, Safa Kadal, and Bagyass
  • Kulgam district: Wanpoh and Qaimoh
  • Pulwama district: The town of Litter

A recent spate of killings in the Union Territory has reportedly claimed the lives of nine civilians over the last 15 days. MediaNama has reached out to Vikas Kumar, Inspector General of Police (IGP) for Kashmir for more information on the matter and will update the story when he responds.

However, in possible violation of the Anuradha Bhasin guidelines on internet shutdowns, an official order for the shutdown could not be found on the home department’s and police department’s websites.

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What does the law say about internet shutdowns?

While the Supreme Court judgement in the Anuradha Bhasin case asks that government make all orders related to telecom/internet restrictions public, the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services Rules, passed in November 2020, lay down that only the Secretary of the State (independently or under instruction from the Secretary under Ministry of Home Affairs) can order internet shutdowns. Further, such orders can only be valid for 15 days at a time and also require due processes to be followed like forming a review committee after the internet suspension.

The most recent internet shutdowns in India

  • Earlier this month, the Uttar Pradesh government ordered a shutdown of internet services in the Lakhimpur Kheri and Sitapur districts, in the wake of violence that broke out during a farmers’ protest.
  • In September, internet services were restricted in Kashmir, after the death of a separatist leader.
  • In the same month, mobile internet services including 4G were suspended in at least 3 districts of Haryana in view of the Kisan Mahapanchayat in Karnal.
  • September also saw the Rajasthan government suspend internet and SMS services in 5 districts to curb cheating during the REET 2021 exams.

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Written By

I cover health technology for MediaNama, among other things. Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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