4G mobile internet services restored in entire J&K after 18 months

SRINAGAR, FEB 5 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 2/5/2021 1:13:45 PM IST

After 18 months of shutdown, the 4G mobile internet services will be restored in Jammu and Kashmir, the UT’s Principal Secretary of Power and Information Rohit Kansal said.

“4G mobile internet services being restored in entire J&K,” Kansal said in a tweet.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “4G Mubarak! For the first time since Aug 2019 all of J&K will have 4G mobile data. Better late than never”.

The 4G internet services were shut down in the UT after the Centre abrogated the erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

The 4G mobile internet services were available in only two of the 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir until now. Services were restored in Udhampur in Jammu and Ganderbal in Kashmir on August 16 last year on a “trial basis”.

Sources said a high-level committee headed by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla recently took the decision to restore services in Jammu and Kashmir based on reports by security agencies that restoration of 4G mobile internet services were not likely to cause any major security problem in the UT.

“A meeting was held this morning by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, where the go-ahead was given for restoration of 4G services based on the recommendation of the local administration and security agencies,” a government official said.

Mobile internet services were suspended in Jammu and Kashmir on August 4, 2019, a day before the Centre announced the decision to strip the erstwhile state of its special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Internet services had been suspended on ground of anticipated law and order situations as a result of the decisions, and intelligence inputs about possible attacks by terrorists infiltrating from across the border.

However, the government took the decision last year to restore the internet in a phased manner, first in broadband services, and then by lifting the restrictions on 4G mobile Internet services in Ganderbal and Udhampur. Elsewhere in the UT, people had only 2G Internet services on mobile.

Sources said the decision to restore services has taken into account the experience in Ganderbal and Udhampur.

“No major incident of terror or law and order has taken place in the five months since the restoration of the Internet in these districts. The whole idea of the trial run was this,” another government official said.

On Tuesday, the government told Parliament that terrorist attacks in the Valley had more than halved in 2020 compared to 2019. The number of terrorists killed by security forces in Kashmir went up by 41% in this period.

Responding to a question on the security situation in Kashmir, Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy told Lok Sabha there were 244 terror incidents in Jammu and Kashmir in 2020, with 37 civilian and 62 security-personnel casualties. In 2019, there were 592 terror incidents, and 37 civilian and 80 security-personnel casualties. In 2018, these figures were 614, 39, and 91 respectively.

“Even though there have been reports of locals joining militancy, both terror incidents and casualty of security personnel is consistently dwindling. It is a good time to restore the Internet and give the people a sense of normalcy,” the official said.

A security establishment officer from Jammu and Kashmir said the local administration had been pushing for restoration of mobile Internet services for months, but things had not moved because of reservations in Delhi.

“The security agencies have been saying since last year that the situation is under control and mobile Internet can be restored across the Union Territory, but the Ministry of Home Affairs did not give the go-ahead. It is good that it has relented now. Restoration of services will make life easier for the people, and will also be a good confidence-building step,” the officer said


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