India's Supreme Court won't allow 4G in Jammu and Kashmir⁠— despite petitioners' plea that it's essential for healthcare, education and business during the coronavirus lockdown

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India's Supreme Court won't allow 4G in Jammu and Kashmir⁠— despite petitioners' plea that it's essential for healthcare, education and business during the coronavirus lockdown
Strict restrictions continue to remain in place across the Kashmir valley after the extention of lockdown till May 14 to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemicBCCL
  • The Indian Supreme Court has ruled that 4G services won't be activated in Jammu and Kashmir even during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
  • Petitioners argued that its an essential service in order for people to have access to basic services like healthcare and education during the lockdown.
  • The official narrative is that access to 4G services could facilitate terrorist activity.
The Supreme Court has shot down the request to activate 4G internet service in Jammu and Kashmir today, May 11. Instead, it has asked the central government to create a committee, which will be headed by the Ministry of Home Affairs Secretary, to consider the points put forward by the petitioners — like 4G being essential of basic services like healthcare and education during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

The petitioners, led by Forum of Media Professionals, pointed out that even the Aarogya Setu App, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted was mandatory for all Indians to downloads, could not be download over 2G speeds.

“This court has to ensure that national security and human are balanced. We do recognise that the UT has plunged into a crisis. At the same time, the court is cognizant to the concerns related to the ongoing pandemic and hardships,” said Justice NV Ramana declaring the judgement.

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Ramana pointed out that even though 4G internet is faster than 2G internet, national security concerns have to addressed. The official narrative in court bore down that access to 4G could facilitate terrorism. The petitioners argued that that there "no rational relation" between the two and restricting access to the internet was akin to restricting access to information and the right to free speech. Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi pointed out that most cases of terrorism happened in areas where there was no internet at all.

Instead, slowing down speeds was making it difficult for doctors to deliver online medical services to those in need.

The central and state government, on the the hand, argued that the speed restrictions have not affected control measures with respect to the coronavirus lockdown or online education.

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Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir have been suspended since August last year when the state of stripped of its special provisions under Article 370 and Article 35A. Services were partially restored in January 2020, before the blockade was lifted on March 4, but only at 2G speeds for mobile users and only access to 'white-listed' sites was brought online. Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, continue to be blocked.

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