India restores internet in Kashmir after 7 months of blackout

Authorities in India on Wednesday temporarily revoked a ban on social media sites and restored full internet access in Indian-administered Kashmir for two weeks, seven months after New Delhi stripped the Muslim-majority region of its statehood and semi-autonomy and enforced a total communications blackout.

Internet access over mobile devices, however, will remain restricted to slow speeds.

The restoration of the internet will remain in effect until March 17, a government order said. It gave no explanation of the time limit. A recent Supreme Court order had said the internet ban could not be indefinite.

The order issued by the region’s home secretary, Shaleen Kabra, said internet access over fixed lines will be restricted to registered customers.

AK Srivastava, an official at state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the leading broadband service provider in Kashmir, told the Associated Press news agency it has begun implementing the new government order.

When it imposed the internet ban in August, the government said it was necessary to prevent anti-India protests and attacks by rebels who have fought for decades for Muslim-majority Kashmir’s independence or unification with Pakistan, which administers the other part of Kashmir.

Both countries claim the Himalayan region in its entirety since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

An official, who wished to remain anonymous, said that in the past social media was used to mobilise people for funerals that resulted in law and order disturbances.

“Post August 5, such Kashmir has not witnesed such disturbances. Subversive elements have lost interest to indulge in stone-pelting,” he said, referring to anti-India protests in the region.


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