Social media makes a ‘silent’ comeback to Kashmir Valley

Order makes no mention of the ban on these platforms.

March 04, 2020 06:31 pm | Updated May 01, 2021 09:52 am IST - Jammu

In this Jan. 30, 2020, photo, Kashmiri journalists browse the internet on their mobile phones inside the media center set up by government authorities in Srinagar.

In this Jan. 30, 2020, photo, Kashmiri journalists browse the internet on their mobile phones inside the media center set up by government authorities in Srinagar.

Nearly 65 lakh mobile Internet users were able to use the social media platforms after seven months on Wednesday, as the J&K government extended ban on the high-speed internet till March 17 and put precondition for pre-paid mobile phone users.

The latest order, however, is silent whether the ban order issued on January 25 on the social media platforms has been withdrawn or not.

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“Upon regular assessment of impact of the directions for regulation of the telecom services on the overall security situation and maintenance of public order, the Internet speed shall be restricted to 2G till March 17. Fixed-line Internet connectivity shall continue to be made available with Mac-binding,” reads the order of principal secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra.

The J&K Home department on January 25 had issued an order to restore 2G mobile service , first time since August 5, on the cellphones but “allowed access to the 301 white-listed sites and not to any social media applications allowing peer to peer communication and virtual private networks (VPNs) applications”. Since then, the Home department orders repeated the ban on use of social media and VPNs.

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The latest order is silent over the social media platforms and the use of VPNs and is being construed by the users as withdrawal of the ban. However, no user was able to access the platforms till Wednesday evening. “I am not able to use any social media. Even access online is only to whitelisted sites,” said Reyaz Ahmad, a trader in Srinagar.

The service providers, the order said, have been asked to provide access only after pre-paid SIMs are “verified as per the norms applicable to post-paid connections”.

Sources said the BSNL is also ready to restore fixed-land broadband services with Mac-binding in Kashmir to users, once formal orders reach it.

“The access facilities provided by the government on e-terminals and Internet kiosks apart from special arrangements for tourists, students, traders etc. shall continue,” the order said.


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