The Jammu and Kashmir administration has cited possible misuse of the Internet by anti-national elements and terrorists as a reason for not restoring these services for the general public and media in the Kashmir
Complying with the Supreme Court’s directions issued on January 10, the Union territory’s administration on Tuesday evening ordered restoration of 2G mobile Internet services on postpaid connections in five districts of Jammu division and broadband facilities in both Jammu and Kashmir divisions only for institutions dealing with essential services and tourism, such as hospitals, banks and hotels.
The order, issued by Principal Secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra late on Tuesday, however, did not restore mobile Internet services for Kashmir division. It said misuse of data services by anti-national elements has the potential to cause large-scale violence and disturb public order “which has till now been maintained due to various pre-emptive measures, including restrictions on access to internet with relaxations in a calibrated and gradual manner, after due consideration of the ground situation”.
Kabra said the police authorities have brought to notice material relating to the terror modules operating in the Union territory, including handlers from across the border, and activities of separatists and anti-national elements within, who are attempting to aid and incite people by transmission of fake news and targeted messages through use of internet to propagate terrorism, indulge in rumour-mongering, support fallacious proxy wars, spread propaganda and cause disaffection and discontent.
“Based on intelligence inputs and assessment of law and order situation obtained on the ground, law enforcement agencies, while dealing with the present situation, have inter-alia reported about sustained efforts being made by terrorists to infiltrate from across the border, re-activate their cadres and scale up anti-national activities in Kashmir division as well as terrorism-affected areas of Jammu division, by communicating effectively with their operatives within the UT of J-K through VOIP and encrypted mobile communication through various social media applications to coordinate and plan terror acts,” the order said.
“… It is absolutely necessary to do so (restrict access to internet) in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the Security of the state and for maintaining public order,” it said.
Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir have been suspended since August 5, when abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution was announced. The authorities have continued to describe the restrictions as a pre-emptive measure to prevent misuse of data services by anti-national elements which has the potential to cause large-scale violence and disturb public order.