J&K: Calls, SMS restored on prepaid mobiles

Voice calls and SMS facilities were restored on prepaid mobile networks in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday after remaining suspended for over five months. The administration also restored 2G mobile data services, but only for access to a set of 153 “white-listed” websites, in all districts of Jammu division and two districts of Kashmir division – Kupwara and Bandipora.

Mobile internet services will remain suspended in the districts of Budgam, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Srinagar, Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama.

The administration had restored broadband services in institutions dealing with “essential services” on Tuesday night. The administration had asked internet service providers to install firewalls and carry out “white-listing” of websites before resuming services. Social media websites continue to be banned in the region.

Last week, the Supreme Court had ordered the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review within a week all restrictive orders imposed in the Union Territory. The bench of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai said suspending internet indefinitely violated telecom rules.

The court had noted that the restrictions on internet have to follow the “principles of proportionality” and complete curbs must be considered by the state only as an extraordinary measure. The judges had also instructed the government to publish in the public domain all the orders imposing restrictions so that they can be challenged in courts.

On August 5 last year, the Centre had amended Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status, imposed a curfew, detained political leaders, and banned all communication services.

The lockdown is still in place but some curbs have been lifted. On the midnight of January 1, SMS services were restored. The Ladakh administration had restored 4G mobile internet connectivity in Kargil on December 27, after a gap of 145 days. Postpaid mobile phone services had been restored across all networks in the Kashmir Valley on October 14.

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