Why Deprive J&K of 4G Internet– the Only Lifeline During Lockdown?

If the internet is a lifeline during lockdown, why should Jammu and Kashmir be deprived of 4G data services?

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The Internet is proving to be the main driving force amid the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown. It is essential for video chats with loved ones, work from home, and staying updated with the latest developments.

The Internet has essentially become our lifeline now. However, in our country, there is this one state which has this lifeline (internet) but no bandwidth. There is connectivity, but it is abysmal. There is 2G, but no 3G, or 4G.

Anika, a student residing in J&K says that during quarantine, people keep themselves busy with the help Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, but they don’t have this luxury.

The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration till 27 April on a petition filed for restoration of 4G internet services in Jammu and Kashmir. The last hearing was held on 21 April.

Advocate Shadan Farasat has sought for the reinstatement of 4G internet services in the petition, stating that the government is violating Article 14 (Right to Equality), Article 19(Freedom of Speech) and Article 21( Right to life) of the constitution.

But why is the government against 4G services in Jammu and Kashmir? The Centre says that 4G in J&K would affect national security, increase militancy, increase the spread of fake news, and the misuse of social media.

Government order issued on 3 April
Government order issued on 3 April
(Photo: Jammu and Kashmir Home Ministry website)
Government order issued on 15 April 
Government order issued on 15 April 
(Photo: Jammu and Kashmir Home Ministry website)

However, despite an internet ban, there has been no drop in terrorist attacks in the valley. Why should the lakhs of people suffer because of the misuse of social media by a certain section of people? Why should lakhs be deprived of an essential service amid coronavirus crisis?

Aren’t there stringent laws to tackle those misusing the internet? Journalists have been slapped with draconian laws like UAPA for allegedly posting anti-national content on social media. Internet and social media is misused in other parts of the country as well, then why deprive only Jammu and Kashmir?

According to the 2017 Cyber Crime data, Jammu and Kashmir is not even in the list of the top five states with cybercrime cases. The maximum number of cases are from Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.

(This story was originally published on Quint Hindi)

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