SRINAGAR: In a significant move, the Lt Governor administration on Wednesday lifted ban on social media allowing the people in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to access it on 2G mobile internet till March 17.
Fixed-line internet connection would also continue with Mac Binding. Netizens can now access popular social networking tools including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram. The ban on high-speed internet, however, was extended till March 17.
An order issued by J&K Home Secretary stated that after the assessment of the impact of telecom services regulation on security situation and maintenance of public order and reports of law enforcement agencies, the internet speed of mobile internet shall be restricted to 2G.
It stated that the postpaid SIM cardholders shall continue to access the internet.
“However, the internet service shall not be made available on prepaid SIM cards unless verified as per the norms applicable for postpaid connections,” the order said.
Sources said the UT government decided to lift restrictions on social media after clearance from both security and intelligence agencies.
Despite a ban on use of social media, netizens were bypassing firewalls through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to access these platforms.
“Barring a few aberrations, internet users did not misuse social media, prompting security agencies to give go-ahead for the lifting of curbs on of social media in J&K, including Valley,” a source said.
The restoration of internet service brought much relief to the people.
“It will prove beneficial to the people from all walks of life including students, professionals, businessmen, government employees and tourism players,” said Zahoor Ahmad, a teacher.
Riyaz Ahmad, a doctor, said his fellow colleagues can re-activate their WhatsApp groups and seek instant inputs from experts in case of dealing with any medical emergency.
The government had banned internet in J&K hours before Article 370 was scrapped and J&K state was bifurcated into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir (with legislature) and Ladakh (without legislature).
After the improvement in the situation, the government had on January 25 restored 2G mobile internet. Fixed-line internet to hospitals, government departments, essential services, some hotels and tour operators was restored in the first week of January.
SPO, civilian killed in Sopore; Rashtriya Rifles team attacked in Budgam
A policeman and a civilian were killed in a militant attack in Sopore area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Wednesday. In the militant attack, two Special Police Officers (SPOs) Wajahat Ahmad and Showkat Ahmad and a civilian, Umar Subhan, were injured.
The injured were evacuated to a nearby hospital, where SPO Wajahat and Umar succumbed to injuries.
The doctors attending on another injured SPO have termed his condition as stable.
Meanwhile, militants fired on a patrol party of Army’s 50 Rashtriya Rifles at Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district.