Relief, anger as Valley gets back 4G net after 18 months
The residents of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday expressed relief over the restoration of high-speed mobile internet services in the region but maintained that it wasn’t a cause of celebration as they deserved an apology from authorities for denying them, what they called “their basic right”, for 18 months.
Authorities suspended 4G mobile internet services in J&K on August 4, 2019, a day before the central government nullified the Constitution’s Article 370, which accorded special privileges to the region, and bifurcated it into two UTs — J&K with a legislative assembly and Ladakh without one. The government also suspended landline and internet services, fearing widespread protests in the restive region. The UT has moved several steps towards normalcy since then, with the gradual restoration of communication lines.
In an order issued on Saturday, Shaleen Kabra, principal secretary (home), ordered restoration of 4 services in the region and directed inspectors general of police in Jammu and Kashmir divisions to ensure compliance and “closely monitor the impact of lifting of restrictions”.
Tariq Ahmad, a 19-year-old college student from Srinagar, welcomed the move but said it was too little too late. “It is alright that they have restored the internet because it was the need of the hour but I don’t think there is any excitement as people are aware that they have lost a lot in these one and a half years. We lost our dignity, our statehood and most importantly our special status,” he said.
Political analyst and author, Gowhar Geelani, said the authorities had not done them any favour by restoring 4G mobile services. “After having snatched your right to high-speed internet service for 18-long months, restoring internet is not something to celebrate about. It is actually a moment to reflect how compensation can be sought from the cellular companies who took money for the services they have failed to provide for so long,” he said.
In August 2020, high-speed internet was restored in two districts of J&K — Ganderbal and Udhampur districts — based on the parameters laid down by the special committee, which recommended that the areas, where high-speed services are allowed, should have low intensity of terrorist activities.
Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of a local daily, said she didn’t see any reason to thank the government for the move. “I actually see some going out of their way to thank govt [government] functionaries for 4G restoration. They’re not offering us charity. We should be asking for compensation for our deprivation and losses,” she said in a tweet.
“It is better late than never. The government has realised how much losses our economy has suffered. This move will give a boost to the economic recovery now,” president, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Sheikh Aashiq told PTI.