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Friday, September 30, 2022

India extends high-speed internet ban in Kashmir, governor’s ‘restoration-very-soon’ promise another hoax

As was widely believed in Indian-administered Kashmir, New Delhi on Friday extended the curbs on high speed internet in the disputed territory, reiterating that it could be ‘dangerous for the country’s sovereignty’. 

The extension of curbs on high speed internet comes after the Indian governor for the region on Thursday claimed that ‘there will be good news on the restoration of high-speed internet soon’.

In an order issued on Friday evening, the Indian government noted that ‘high -speed internet continues to be dangerous for the peace in the disputed region and for India’s sovereignty’.

India’s governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday said that the high speed internet will be restored soon but he didn’t give a timeline for the restoration. 

The restrictions on internet will now continue till January 22, this year.

As New Delhi unilaterally revoked the special status of Kashmir in the August of 2019, the South Asian nation imposed an unprecedented crackdown and internet gag to cull the voices of dissent. 

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had said that there is a committee examining the restoration of 4-G services in the remaining districts and ‘there will be good news soon in the coming days’.

After months of clampdown and total internet gag, Indian administration in Kashmir had allowed restricted internet showing no considerations for the residents whose education and businesses suffered massively due to the move. 

“I know 4G is working in just two districts of Kashmir. There is a committee examining the issue. Hopefully, there will be good news soon in the coming days,” Sinha, a former minister in Narendra Modi government, had said in reply to a query during a press conference in Jammu.

India’s administrators have made many such promises since past two years but action on these promises has been little. 

After global criticism India last year allowed high speed internet in two districts of the region. The military grid, in the highest militarized zone in the world, claims that internet is being used by pro-freedom population to indulge in anti-India activities. 

Contrary to New Delhi’s claims of being a free democracy India’s freedom of speech rating has dipped sharply especially since the country’s reigns were taken over by the Hindu right wing Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014.

India suffered the longest internet shutdowns in 2020 for the second year running globally, bearing the biggest economic impact of $2.8 billion and 8,927 hours lost, affecting 10.3 million users in total, a new report from the UK-based privacy and security research firm Top10VPN has revealed.

As in previous years, India continued to restrict internet access more than any other country – over 75 times in 2020.

“The majority of these short blackouts were highly-targeted, affecting groups of villages or individual city districts and so were not included in this report, which focuses on larger region-wide shutdowns. The true economic cost is therefore likely to be even higher than the $2.8 billion we have calculated,” the researchers informed.

In Kashmir, authorities lifted restrictions in March 2020 after imposing in August 2019.

“However, after the restrictions were lifted authorities continued to severely throttle internet speeds, with citizens only able to access 2G connections,” it mentioned.

In India, internet blackouts lasted for 1,655 hours while bandwidth throttling resulted in 7,272 hours lost.

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