Inside Kashmir

Gag on high speed, broadband fixed line internet continues in Kashmir

Srinagar, Feb 1 (GCCurrentAffairs) Gag on high speed mobile internet of all Cellular companies besides broadband and fixed line internet continued in Kashmir valley since August 5, when the Centre scrapped Article 370 and divided the state into two Union Territories (UTs).

However, in a latest review meeting, the UT administration has decided to continue 2G internet service in the valley till February 7, when next review meeting will be held. ‘No decision was taken about restoration of broadband and high speed mobile internet service in the valley,’ official sources told UNI on Saturday.

The review meeting was held on Friday following Supreme Court (SC) order describing internet as fundamental right last month.

Meanwhile, fixed-line internet service, which was restored by private operators for some media houses in Kashmir valley during the last couple of days, was again suspended following ‘instructions by the authorities’.

‘We had restored fixed-line internet service recently to some media organisations after they gave undertaking that it will not be misused,’ an employee of one of the private operators, who wished anonymity, told UNI.

He said they had asked other media houses to submit similar undertaking so that their services could also be restored. However, he said that they received a communication from authorities asking them to suspend internet services of the media houses, besides automobile companies in the valley.

Due to this fresh order, several media houses who had breathed a sigh of relief following restoration of their internet were again left high and dry.

Meanwhile, BSNL has said that the broadband internet service will not be restored in the valley till the time they are able to block social media site. The state-run telecom operator has sought help from experts from other parts of the country to block the social media site.
However, experts said that it will be very difficult to stop complete access to social media as there are hundreds of VPNs available which can be used to bypass the security setting and access the blocked sites.

Following directions by the Supreme Court, the UT government restored 2G mobile internet service in the valley on pre and post paid mobile phones on January 25. However, government listed 300 whitelisted websites, including email service, banking website, education related websites, job platforms, entertainment, tour and travel and weather website. White listing of websites shall be continuous process.

Only handful news websites have been placed in the category of whitelisted sites in the valley. Ironically, even the websites of major national newspapers and news agencies, including United News of India (UNI) and Press Trust of India (PTI), have not found their way into the whitelisted sites.

People alleged that restoration of 2G mobile internet service hardly makes any difference as the users are unable to even check their mails as the speed is very low. All social media sites remained suspended, the order read.

Due to suspension of internet service, journalists working for different media organisations, including News Agencies, were badly hit. However, the administration had set up a media facilitation centre at Sonawar in the city. The centre was later shifted to Directorate Information Office in Srinagar, where journalists are filing their stories to their respective media organizations.

However, the journalists have to wait for hours, particularly in the evening time, to get their turn since only a limited number of systems are working in the centre.

Via UNI-India

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