2G is here to stay
The administration has extended the 2G mobile data service and fixed line internet connectivity wherever provided across the union territory till February 24. This decision was taken on Saturday after ascertaining the situation on ground.
The order by the administration also reiterated that internet service providers (ISPs) have been given directions to ensure access to 1,485 white-listed sites only and not to any social media applications allowing peer-to-peer communication and virtual private network (VPN) applications.
The 2G internet facility on mobile phones was restored in Jammu and Kashmir on January 25 after remaining suspended since August 5 last year after the Centre announced abrogation of Article 370 provisions and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The gag on internet has affected almost all spheres of life in Kashmir. Though Jammu and Ladakh region also witnessed disruptions in some critical sectors but the internet connectivity was restored after some time bringing back the derailed processes back on track.
However, the worrying situation has not been addressed in Kashmir where internet facilities have not been provided to the common man to an extent that his problems may get resolved.
The sectors that have been bearing the brunt of internet gag are education, tourism, health, media, trade and commerce and various other important sectors. The most severe blow has been dealt to the tourism sector and education.
While tourism has taken a beating as almost all the hotels and resorts across Kashmir are witnessing zero occupancy, the situation is no better in the education and health sectors.
Students have been denied access to various sources of information on the internet as the 2G services have failed to address their concerns. Similarly health services too have been witnessing a massive slide as all health care services benefitting a poor commoner have been in suspension mode since August 5, 2019 when the special provision of the state of Jammu and Kashmir were abrogated.
What is more worrying is that the mobile data and internet service have been provided access only to the 1,485 whitelisted sites and the selection of these sites has been done on the whims and fancies of those who have no such knowledge or authority to do so.
Most of the news websites in Kashmir which have a huge following and are being read have been denied a chance in being the whitelisted sites and no argument is being forwarded as to why these sites have been blocked.
Though most of them believe in and propagate the true essence of journalism, these sites have been kept in the blacklist marring their survival and growth.