January 12, 2020

Internet: A “fundamental right” denied in Kashmir

With Supreme Court of the country declaring access to internet services “a fundamental right” for the people in India and directing the government to review over 150 day long communication blockade in Jammu & Kashmir, the government has though no point to delay the restoration of internet services but it is yet to react to the supreme court judgment. Since the Supreme Court has not pulled up only the central government but also the Jammu & Kashmir administration for prolonging the restrictions on internet services in Kashmir valley, an early action on the supreme court orders over the restoration of internet services from the central government and as well as the Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory administration within a week or so is expected by the people in Jammu & Kashmir. Knowing that even the operation of essential services has been badly hit by the internet shutdown in landlocked Kashmir valley the government should have eased the internet restrictions without waiting for a judgment on several petition filed against communication blockade in the apex court of the country and more so after Assam High Court directed the restoration of internet services only a day after it’s blockade in several parts of Assam. Lifting restrictions on tourists without easing restrictions even on broadband internet services is another crude joke.
Though the government claims to have restored internet access to hospitals in Kashmir valley but allegations are galore that internet services are yet to be restored in most of the hospitals in rural areas in valley. Since the restoration of SMS facilities on mobiles in valley almost a month back did not saw any rise in rumour mongering in valley, the government could have on its own taken a call on the restoration of the broadband internet services without waiting for the Supreme Court judgment. Ironically the government did not take a call on restoration of internet services even on the pressing demands of the students and traders for filing the online NEET application forms and GST annual returns last month. With government itself claiming restoration of normalcy in Kashmir after the bifurcation of erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state into two union territories and withdrawal of special status to it, very little scope is left for the government to even delay the restoration of internet services in view of the observations of the supreme court on security lockdown under section 144 and internet blockade. The intervention of the Supreme Court by all standards of understandabilities should not lead to any further delay in the restoration of internet services as delaying the restoration of internet services may attract toughest strictures against the government from the apex court of the country.

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