All prepaid mobile connections and 2G mobile Internet service in parts were restored on Saturday in Jammu and Kashmir , even as the authorities' bid to provide limited access Internet has hit the 'whitelist' wall after poor Internet speed in four districts of Jammu makes sites inaccessible.
“Voice and short messaging service (SMS) facility on all local prepaid SIM cards across J&K shall be restored on Saturday. 2G mobile data services on the post-paid mobiles for accessing whitelisted sites shall be allowed in all 10 districts of Jammu division, besides Kupwara and Bandipora districts of the Kashmir Valley,” Principal Secretary, Planning, and J&K government spokesman, Rohit Kansal, said in Jammu.
The Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) would initiate the process for verification of credentials of prepaid subscribers “as per the norms applicable for post-paid connections,” he said.
However, Internet will remain suspended in Srinagar and seven other districts of the Valley.
Mr. Kansal said the information technology (IT) companies would also be provided with fixed line Net connectivity with the precautions directed by the Home department.
According to a department order issued on Friday, there have been a number of reports on the use of Internet in cross-border terrorism, incitement, rumour-mongering, etc. and also misuse of the prepaid connections by anti-national elements.
The department has invoked Sub-Section (2) of Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Sub-Rule (1) of Rule 2 of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, and decided to make “only 153 websites whitelist” available to the users. It called the action necessary “in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India” and “for maintaining public order in J&K”.
The 153 websites include limited access to mailing services, banking, education, travel, employment, entertainment, banks, automobile sites and utility sites. However, no news portal is among the list. All the social media platforms are barred from any access, as per the order.
“The overall effort of the government shall be to facilitate and to keep restrictions to the bare minimum based on the ground situation,” said Mr. Kansal.
Jammu struggles for access
The Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi districts of Jammu division, where 2G was restored on January 15, 2020, are struggling to access the listed websites.
“The official websites and the employment websites are heavy data sites and require more than 2G speed to access the contents. I have been trying to access the sites but failed in the past three days. I wanted to download NEET syllabus 2020," Javeed Ahmad, a student in Jammu city, said.
Most users, especially of BSNL, complained that they were not able to even access the 153 approved sites.