It has been more than a year since Article 370 was abrogated and mobile data speed was slowed down in the J&K UT. Now, the Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court demanding the restoration of 4G internet services in the UT.
As coronavirus pandemic started to influence our lives, schools were shut down to prevent students from getting infected. While students in other parts of the nation are attending online classes, the association has argued that students in J&K can’t attend online classes because of slow internet speed. With the 2G internet speed which is allowed in the UT, using Zoom or Google Classrooms is not possible. To support their claims, the association cited reports of various technology experts.
Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir has 3800 schools as members. The association stated that because of lack of online classes, students in J&K are at a competitive disadvantage in comparison to students from the other parts of the nation.
After August 15 last year, 4G internet was restored in two districts of the State – Ganderbal (Kashmir division) and Udhampur(Jammu division) – but restrictions in other districts continued to exist.
The school association argued through its second writ petition that the internet restrictions are not required in the present circumstances. It cited statistics to state that incidents of terrorism and stone-pelting have already come down considerably since August 2019.
However, it is not the first time when the Supreme Court is requested to interfere in the matter. It is argued that the government is blindly extending the mobile internet restrictions without any logical reasoning and not trying to use alternative options like:
1. Identifying suspected persons and intercepting their conversations under applicable law based on intelligence inputs.
2. Blocking specific websites which are being used to spread terrorism under Section 69A of the IT Act.
3. Restricting internet access in a specific region for a specific period of time based upon a specific intelligence input.
The petitioner argued that more than 500 days of continuous internet restrictions have resulted in a routine and permanent character.
The plea stated that by restricting mobile internet in 18 out of 20 districts of Jammu & Kashmir because of security concerns, the government order treats all residents in these districts suspiciously.
On January 22, J&K administration issued another order extending the mobile internet speed restrictions in eighteen districts till February 6.