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4G mobile internet in Kashmir: Ban ended forever after 550 days

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India has started 4G mobile internet in Kashmir, a disputed region. The ban was imposed for about 18 months (550 days). The ban was lifted through an order late Friday. The ban was lifted to provide autonomy to people from disputed Kashmir.

Although the government lifted the ban on 4G mobile internet in Kashmir, regional home secretary, Shaleen Kabra has asked police officials to appropriately monitor the impact of lifting restrictions. A blanket internet ban, the longest in a democracy which rights activists dubbed as “digital apartheid” and “collective punishment,” came into effect on August 2019 when India stripped Kashmir of its statehood its residents’ special rights in land ownership and jobs. The region was divided into two federally governed territories.



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Impacts of ban on 4G mobile internet in Kashmir

The move accompanied a security clampdown and total communications blackout. This situation led to hundreds of thousands jobless, weakened the already delicate health care system and stopped the school and college education of several scholars. Months later, India slowly relieved some of the restrictions, including partial internet connectivity.



Reason of Ban on 4G mobile internet in Kashmir

In January 2020, authorities permitted the Indian-controlled territory’s more than 12 million people to access government-approved websites using slow-speed connections. After 2 months, authorities revoked a ban on social media and reinstated full internet connectivity but not high-speed internet. In August, 4G services were permitted in two out of the region’s 20 districts.

Officials have said the internet prohibition was designed at heading off anti-India protests and attacks by rebels who have struggled for decades for the region’s independence or unification with Pakistan, which administers another portion of Kashmir. Both countries claim the landlocked territory in its entirety.

Officials have also claimed that such security measures were essential to better integrate the region with India, foster greater economic development and stop threats from “anti-national elements” and Pakistan.



How people took the ban on 4G mobile internet in Kashmir

However, many people from Kashmir view the move as part of the beginning of settler colonialism designed at engineering a demographic change in India’s only Muslim-majority region. Digital rights activists have consistently denounced the internet restrictions and said they represented a new government control over information. They were also criticized by lawmakers in Europe and the U.S., who called on the government to end the curbs.

India often snaps mobile internet services in parts of the region as a tactic during counterinsurgency operations and anti-India protests.

According to the London-based digital privacy and research group Top10VPN, India ranked at the top in internet shutdowns in 2020.

In its January report, the group said internet shutdowns in 2020 caused a loss of $4.01 billion globally and India was the most impacted while suffering a loss of $2.8 billion.



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