Kashmir Internet Shutdown: 2G Mobile Internet Services Restored in Region

Joanna Estrada
January 26, 2020

Internet services will be partly restored in Indian-controlled Kashmir from Saturday, ending a five-and-a half-month government-imposed blackout in the troubled region, though social media will stay offline, local authorities said. Starting on Saturday, Kashmiris should have access to Google, Amazon and Netflix, but not to any social media sites that allow "peer-to-peer" communications.

Internet access will be restored later Saturday but only to 301 government-approved websites that include global news publications and platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. According to a home department order, network connectivity will still be restricted to the slow 2G speed and access will only be allowed to websites that are named on the government-approved "whitelist" that was made public on January 18 and has now been expanded to allow access to search engines and news.

The 15 January order came soon after the Supreme Court directed it to review all the restrictions in the Union Territory.

The government soon set up internet kiosks to alleviate the problem, prompting locals to travel to these locations and wait in line for internet access. Bank payments, tax returns, college admissions and online bookings were all affected.

A security personnel stands guard on a street during a lockdown in Srinagar on 11 August 2019, after the Indian government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy. Sheikh Ashiq, the president of KCCI, told DW correspondent Gowhar Geelani earlier this month that the economy would take a long time to recover once the blackout was lifted.

The move to restore the services comes days after India's top court ordered the curbs to be reversed, saying that freedom of internet access is a fundamental right and that its indefinite suspension is illegal. The judges slammed the ban as an "arbitrary exercise of power".

While most of the services except mobile Internet were restored in Jammu within a week, Kashmir witnessed restoration of landlines and postpaid mobile services and Internet facilities for essential services like hospitals in phases.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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