J&K: 'Communication channels to be opened post review'

Normal communication channels will be opened in J&K after review: LG G C Murmu

Asked whether he was satisfied with normalcy returning to Jammu and Kashmir, Murmu said, “Definitely, the situation is normal in Jammu and other parts. People are now participating in development." Credit: Reuters

With the internet services in Jammu and Kashmir restored partially on Wednesday, Lt Governor G C Murmu on Wednesday said that normal communication channels will be opened in the region after a review.

"We are reviewing continuously, and accordingly, we are relaxing everything. In the coming days, normal communication technology and communications channels will be opened," he told reporters after the administration issued orders for partial restoration of internet services in the Union Territory (UT).

Asked whether he was satisfied with normalcy returning to Jammu and Kashmir, Murmu said, “Definitely, the situation is normal in Jammu and other parts. People are now participating in development."

Earlier, while complying with the Supreme Court directions issued on January 10, the UT administration ordered the 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.

Principal Secretary, Home Department, Shaleen Kabra issued a detailed order to this effect. The Home Department order said 2G mobile connectivity will be restored from January 15 on postpaid mobile telephones to access white-listed sites including for e-banking, in five districts of Jammu region including Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi.

However, in the other districts of the UT (including all 10 districts of Kashmir and five remaining districts of Jammu region), mobile internet connectivity will remain suspended. The mobile internet services in five districts have been restored for a period of seven days from January 15 to 22, unless modified earlier. Further extension in the mobile services will depend upon a review of the situation.

The order 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.”

The Home Secretary 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.

The order also directed the divisional administration of Kashmir to establish 400 more internet kiosks to facilitate the general public, students, traders for filing GST returns, and tourists – a sign that internet services were unlikely to be restored in the Valley anytime soon.

Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir were suspended on August 5, hours before the Center abrogated J&K’s special status under Article 370.

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