In a latest development from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, the UT administration has decided to continue the imposition of a ban on social media. The ban acceding to the government sources shall continue for the days to come and only the safe of voice calls, SMS and 2G internet connectivity to white-listed sites on pre-paid and post-paid cellphones across the Union Territory shall be allowed till February 15.
The administration has increased the number of websites in the white-listed list to 481 from the earlier 329 declared on January 31. The decision has been taken upon reassessment of the restrictions on mobile data services with respect to its impact on the overall security situation and after the due consideration of the reports of law enforcement agencies according to the administration of the Union Territory.
A government order dated January 31 reads, “ It is absolutely necessary to do so in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state and for maintaining the order. The directions, restrictions contained in the Government order dated January 31 last shall continue to remain operative till February 15 unless modified earlier.”
We must acknowledge the fact that on January 31, the government increased the list of whitelisted websites from 301 to 329.
On January 18 the government had restored pre-paid cellphone service across the UT apart from 2G internet mobile internet connectivity to 153 white listed websites on post paid cellphones in all the 10 districts of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and two revenue districts in Kashmir- Kupwara and Bandipora.
Internet services, landlines and mobile phones were snapped across Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 after the Centre announced its decision to scrap Article 370 and bifurcate the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.
While most of the services were restored in Jammu by the end of the month, landlines, post paid mobile services and internet services for essential facilities like educational institutions and hospitals had been restored in phases in Kashmir.
It was on January 10 that the Jammu and Kashmir administration had been asked by the Supreme Court to review all the orders suspending internet services in the valley.
It also stated that the freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to practice any profession or to carry any trade, business or occupation over the medium of internet enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19.
It also said that an order suspending internet indefinitely is unacceptable.The government then said, “Restriction upon such fundamental rights should be in consonance with the mandate under Article 19(2) and (6) of the Indian Constitution inclusive of the test of proportionality.”