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Broadband, 2G Internet partially restored in J&K

Broadband, 2G Internet partially restored in J&K

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday evening allowed mobile Internet in parts of Jammu region and broadband in hotels, travel establishments and hospitals but only on white-listed websites, official said.

In a three-page order, the home department said additional 400 internet kiosks will be established in Kashmir division.

Internet service providers will offer broadband facility (with Mac binding) to all institutions dealing with essential services, hospitals, banks as also government offices.

Mac Binding means to enforce a client machine to work from a particular Internet Protocol address.

In order to facilitate tourism, broadband internet would be provided to hotels and tour and travel establishments.

The order also said that the 2G mobile connectivity on post-paid mobiles for accessing white-listed websites including e-banking will be allowed in districts of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi -- all in the Jammu region.

The order comes days after the Supreme Court had made harsh observation on the JK administration for snapping Internet services, which the apex court said was a fundamental right of the people.

The J&K administration has cited possible misuse of the internet by anti-national elements and terrorists as a reason for not restoring these services for the general public and media in the Kashmir Valley.

The order, issued by Principal Secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra late on Tuesday, however, did not restore mobile internet services for Kashmir division. It said 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 pre-emptive measures, including restrictions on access to internet with relaxations in a calibrated and gradual manner, after due consideration of the ground situation".

Kabra said the police authorities have brought to notice material relating to the terror modules operating in the union territory, including handlers from across the border, and activities of separatists and anti-national elements within, who are attempting to aid and incite people by transmission of fake news and targeted messages through use of internet to propagate terrorism, indulge in rumour-mongering, support fallacious proxy wars, spread propaganda and cause disaffection and discontent.

"Based on intelligence inputs and assessment of law and order situation obtained on the ground, law enforcement agencies, while dealing with the present situation, have inter-alia reported about sustained efforts being made by terrorists to infiltrate from across the border, re-activate their cadres and scale up anti-national activities in Kashmir division as well as terrorism-affected areas of Jammu division, by communicating effectively with their operatives within the UT of J-K through VOIP and encrypted mobile communication through various social media applications to coordinate and plan terror acts," the order said.

"... it is absolutely necessary to do so (restrict access to internet) in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the Security of the State and for maintaining public order," it said. Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir have been suspended since August 5, when abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution was announced. The authorities have continued to describe the restrictions as a pre-emptive measure to prevent misuse of data services by anti-national elements which has the potential to cause large-scale violence and disturb public order.

Tuesday's order directed the internet service providers (ISPs) in the Kashmir Valley to provide limited broadband facility to essential services, such as hospitals, banks and government offices, and hotels and tour and travel establishments. There is no mention of the services being restored to media organisations or to the general public in the Valley.

"ISPs to provide broadband facility, with Mac-binding, to all the institutions dealing with essential services, hospitals, banks, etc as also government offices, and in order to facilitate tourism, to hotels and tour and travel establishments," Kabra said in the order.

He asked the ISPs to install necessary firewalls and carry out 'white-listing' of sites that would enable access to government websites and websites dealing with essential services, e-banking, etc.

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