In a recent meeting held to review the security in Jammu and Kashmir, the administration and center have decided to continue the ban on the 4G internet in Jammu and Kashmir.
The decision was taken in the view of Panchayat and Municipal by-election which were to be held in October-November. According to the officials, the people of J&K are much aware of the matter. The J&K and central government officials believed that it would be challenging for the government to start the 4G internet services in the UT amid increasing terrorist attacks on the political workers and leaders.
As per the official record in Kashmir, there are about 11,500 Panch and 890 Sarpanch seats vacant on the other hand in Jammu there are about 185 Panch and 125 Sarpanch seats vacant. Internet restriction will continue in J&K except for 2 districts.
The J&K administration will issue another order by 21 October. In January 2020, 2G services were restored in J&K but the central government didn’t allow the restoration of 4G services even after several petitions in the Supreme Court. A special committee would be set up in J&K to examine the resumption of 4g Internet.
The J&K administration may announce the dates of elections soon when the ongoing Back-to-village program will end. The government did not want anything to happen as these elections will be the first exercise in the newly formed Union Territory after the abrogation of Article 370 and the state was split into 2 UTs.
Earlier the administration of J&K had announced that the Panchayat by-elections would be held in 8 phases starting from 5 March 2020 but the elections were postponed due to security reasons. Later the elections were further postponed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. But now the administration is all set to hold the elections.
The Information and Public Relation Department of J&K have asked the journalist to collect the passes for election coverage. In 2018, the regional parties like NC and PDP boycotted the Panchayat elections when the turnout in Jammu was recorded around 83.5% while in Kashmir and Ladakh the turnout was recorded only 44.4%.
In 2011 when Panchayat elections were held nearly after 30 years it broke many previous records of the total number of voters both in Jammu and Kashmir. The PDP-BJP led government didn’t hold Panchayat elections despite repeated directions from the then Governor NN Vohra. Finally, the elections were held in 2018, five months after the fallout between BJP and PDP.
During the 2019 Block Development Councils (BDCs) election, most of the regional leaders of J&K we’re under detention in the view of the Public Safety Act (PSA) and many non-BJP and non-Congress were absent in the UTs first BDCs elections. The BDC is the middle layer in the 3-tier Panchayati Raj system and only the Panches and Sarpanches are eligible to vote in the BDCs elections.
On 14 August 2020, 4G services were restored in the Ganderbal district of Kashmir and the Udhampur district of Jammu. The services were resumed on a trial basis and it was the first time high-speed internet returned to the newly formed UT. After the abrogation of the special status of J&K, the central government had banned the Internet services which were restored to 2G and then to 4g in 2 districts only. The 4G services were resumed in both the districts after the recommendation of the panel which was set-up by the Supreme Court to review the restrictions and security situation in the Union Territory.
The decision to restore the 4G services in both the districts was after the center assured the Supreme Court that 4G will be restored only in 1 district in Jammu and 1 district in Kashmir. The assurance was given when the Supreme Court was hearing a petition against the J&K administration and the center to restore the internet services in all other districts of J&K. The Supreme Court has asked the center to explore every possibility to restore the 4G services in J&K after the then LG GC Murmu appealed the Supreme Court for the same.
While students amid the Covid-19 pandemic are taking classes online, they have demanded to restore 4G completely in J&K. According to a plea filed in Supreme Court about 2,200 schools are unable to hold classes and the future of 27 lakh students is at risk. On the other hand, the center said that it cannot overlook terrorist attacks in J&K and the question of national security.
According to the Union Ministry, 2G internet services are enough to take online classes and to access educational apps. The students who study in different states are back to their homes in J&K and the situation has become much worse.