OPINION: When will 4G be restored in J&K?

When will 4G be restored in J&K?
by Akhilesh Dhar

J&K is deprived of full-fledged internet services since the abrogation of J&K’s special status, granted under Article 370. The move which Jammu division accepted warmly and solemnly while the Kashmir division holds a difference in opinion on the centre’s move. Eventually, internet services were partially restored later on while its speed restricted to 2G. 

The pleas filed for restoration of high-speed internet services declined by the Supreme Court by saying that “peculiar circumstances” in the Union Territory required “delicate balancing” of “national security concerns and humans rights.” The bench further ordered the constitution of a special committee, headed by the Union home secretary, to “immediately determine the necessity of the continuation of” limiting mobile internet speed to 2G. 

The Union Home secretary and J&K Chief Secretary will be the part of the committee to check the demand of 4G means that the game itself is in the courtyards of officials, authorities. 

But one can’t ignore the plight faced by a large number of people in the wake of coronavirus. 2G internet is not enough for children to access online classes. Business dependents are hit hard due to the non-availability of online mode. Entrepreneurs and website owners are also facing the same fate. 

Many youngsters of J&K are somewhere associated with social media for earning – their story of success would not have been possible without high-speed internet. News of forced migration is also doing the rounds. Many business runners with no money in hand from the past few months left for other cities to secure new jobs due to the pressure they faced from their parents. Still, many of us have kept finger crossed hoping that high-speed internet will be restored sooner. 

J&K is going through a worrying trend as many start-ups reliant have lost their jobs. Also, the unemployment rate in the union territory has taken a major spike according to the official figures that too in times of gruesome corona pandemic.  

Along with the plight, it is also the worrying fact that the issue of infiltration from the Pakistan side through the borders is also not negligible. Time and again terrorists from that side under the support of Pakistan army try to cross LoC to perform terror activities and high-speed internet enables the terror outfits for incitement as also in planning attacks. However, due to the outside forces, the incidents resulting in the death of innocent citizens and security forces can’t be ignored. 

Although, there is no restriction on fixed-line broadband internet service but a larger area of the union territory falls under the far-flung area leaving many deprived of wifi benefits also. 

We all believe the fact that national security should be on top focus as well as the top priority for the central administration. The security forces are acting as a symbol of integration and cooperation in the conflict-prone zone like Kashmir. So, everything should be done with their consent and considering them. 

But, the main city of Jammu which has less or zero connection with border areas are also facing this punishment. Why a collective punishment for the youth of Jammu? Time and again they have shown their patience. Most of them stand neck-to-neck with every central government policy which is being implemented here. Why not a 4G for them? Why they are deprived of this basic necessity? 

So, 4G may pose a threat to security keeping given the Supreme Court judgment. But, at the same time, its government’s job to find the alternative of the situation as 4G is the need of an hour not only in Jammu but also in Kashmir. So, they must revisit the policy and review the 4G ban and do the needful which eventually will strengthen the fight against coronavirus. 

In my view, the authorities must continue the suspension of the internet in only those areas, where there is a prime necessity of restrictions to be imposed – and allow full access of services in the rest of the areas of the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir. 

(The article was previously published on his news venture cum website politypress.com ) 

Author’s twitter handle:- @akhileshdhar1 

Insta handle:- akhilesh_dhar_