Broadband internet services will be restored in phases in Jammu and Kashmir starting from Wednesday, after more than five months of the communications clampdown put in place after the Centre abrogated Article 370, which provided some degree of autonomy to the then-state, on 5 August. The order by the Jammu and Kashmir administration comes days after the Supreme Court directed it to review all the restrictions in the Union Territory.
According to reports, from Wednesday, the administration will allow broadband internet facilities on "white-listed websites" in hospitals, banks, government offices, hotels, educational institutions, and tourism companies. The order also said that the 2G mobile connectivity on post-paid mobiles for accessing white-listed websites including e-banking will be opened in the Jammu, Samba, Kathua, and Reasi districts of the Jammu region.
In a three-page order, the home department said that 400 additional internet kiosks will be established in the Kashmir division, PTI reported.
"Internet service providers will offer broadband facility (with Mac binding) to all institutions dealing with essential services, hospitals, banks as also government offices," the order said. Mac Binding means to enforce a client machine to work from a particular Internet Protocol address.
NDTV also reported that in phases over the next 48 hours, broadband internet is also likely to be restored in parts of Kashmir. "First it would be the turn of Central Kashmir including state capital Srinagar, which will be followed by north Kashmir (Kupwara, Bandipora and Baramulla) two days later. South Kashmir (Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag) comes last, after another two days," the report said.
On 10 January, the apex court held that access to internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution.
The bench also held that internet shutdowns cannot be ordered to suppress speech unless there is incitement to violence or similar reasons. "Reasonableness of Section 144 orders must be assessed based on territorial reach, nature of restrictions and time period."
The Supreme Court ordered the suspension of internet should be reviewed forthwith and that such suspension can be only "for a limited time period". It is also subject to judicial review, Justice Ramana said while reading the judgment.
A five-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana also asked the administration to restore internet services in institutions providing essential services like hospitals and educational places.
With inputs from agencies