Internet to be restored in the Valley soon after its 'longest peace time'

Internet to be restored in the Valley soon after its 'longest peace time'
Security personnel stand guard during restrictions, in Srinagar. File Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Four months after the Modi government scrapped the 'special status' to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and threw the state (now bifurcated into two Union territories) into an abyss with a communication lockdown, the authorities decided on Wednesday to finally restore internet facility on the fixed landline connections here.

"It has been decided to restore internet services on fixed landline connections provided by BSNL in the Valley. The services would be restored immediately in Srinagar and gradually in the entire Valley," a senior official said after a high-level meeting in New Delhi.

Internet services were suspended on August 4, a day before Article 370 – which provided the special status to J&K - was revoked, and had remained suspended in the Valley since then.

There had been growing demands from students, professionals and business people for the restoration of service as they claimed that its suspension had severely affected their day to day activities.

Local traders said they could not file the goods and services tax (GST) and the income tax returns due to non-availability of internet. Hoteliers said they were unable to take bookings from tour and travel operators because of no internet.

Authorities said the suspension of the internet had become unavoidable as anti-national and anti-social elements were using it to upload inflammatory posts, statements and pictures to disturb law and order in Kashmir.

The development came in the light of there being no notable violence these past months. Since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 4, the region has been relatively "violence-free" and "most peaceful", Union Minister Jitendra Singh said.

Stating that the internet was suspended to control militancy in the Valley, the Minister said, since August 5, it had by and large been a violence-free season and one of the most peaceful in the past 20-30 years. "We had Eid, Ramadan and Independence Day," he said.

Singh also pointed to visuals in newspapers that showed crowded Sunday markets.

He said it had been reiterated by Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament that "certain restrictions were there to avert untoward incidents."

The Minister cited two incidents -- one from Lakhanpur, the border district between J&K and Punjab, and other from Kishtwar -- when militants were liquidated because they lost their way and could not have coordinates because of suspension of the mobile network.

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