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No High-Speed Internet Amidst Pandemic – The Woes of Jammu & Kashmir

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On 5th august 2019, the government of India suddenly revoked the Article 370 that gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir a special status and political autonomy. Soon After which the authorities anticipating a protest, locked down all the movements. Shops, schools and colleges were shut down and mobile internet service in the valley was suspended indefinitely.

After a year of blackout, the 4G services were restored on a trial basis in 2 districts of the union territory. According to the Jammu and Kashmir home department, the 2 districts are Ganderbal district of Kashmir and Udhampur of Jammu. The trial service that started on 15th august, will continue till September 8. The high-speed internet was made available to post paid subscribers, and for pre-paid subscribers only when they go through the verification process.

On 25th January, government had restored the 2G internet services for the valley residents after 6 months of internet blackout. The restoration however did not come without plenty of restrictions. The internet access was limited to 301 ‘whitelisted’ websites and social media sites were still not accessible.

Living in a 4G world, we certainly don’t need a reminder of the incompetency of 2G. With a rapid speed, internet has seeped into every aspect of our daily lives. From online classes to ordering food online, internet is now the base of almost all the major industries. Not having access to internet for even a day amounts to a huge loss for these industries.

The shutdown of internet services has caused a huge loss to the students of the valley. If the closure of schools and colleges were not enough, the internet shut down has deprived them to have access to online education. Many students missed out on the deadline of college application submissions to colleges outside J&K because of slow internet.

As if the enforced shutdown of all services since last year were not enough, the ever growing Covid-19 crisis has added to the woes of people there. The major hit of this pandemic has been on the healthcare system of the Union Territory. The low speed internet has made it difficult for the people to consult doctors online. They are neither able to explain their issues nor are they able to receive their test results.

To think that the people of Jammu & Kashmir and their respective businesses had to go a year without a stable network is very troubling. Not being able to do online transactions and video conferences has gravely affected both the small scale and large-scale businesses. Even now, only 2 out of 20 districts have got the access to 4G, that too on a trial basis.

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