On January 10th the Indian Supreme Court heard petitions challenging the restrictions on movement and communication imposed in the valley since August 5, 2019. During these hearings, the Supreme Court claimed that freedom of internet is a fundamental right and ordered the administration to review all restrictive orders within a week.
The Indian Court further said that internet suspension without “any particular duration and indefinitely” is a violation of telecom rules.
Indian government’s response
The government, however, defied the order of the Supreme Court. In a notification issues by Indian authorities late on Tuesday, they claimed that the ban was “necessary for curbing anti-national elements who are attempting to aid and incite people by transmission of fake news and targeted messages […] propagate terrorism, indulge in rumour mongering, support fallacious proxy wars, spread propaganda/ideologies, and cause disaffection and discontent”.
The notification further stated that “The 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 preemptive measures, including restrictions on access to internet […]” adding that the ban was “absolutely necessary […] in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India”.
A silver lining?
According to the report, the government will restore 2G services on postpaid mobile phones in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi areas of occupied Kashmir from Thursday (tomorrow). Meanwhile, the remaining districts – Poonch, Rajouri, Ramban, Kishtwar and Doda – will remain without mobile internet.
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