Mumbai: 4G mobile internet services restored in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on Friday after 18 months. With the restoration of 4G mobile internet services, the world’s longest internet shutdown in any democratic nation has ended.
“4G mobile internet services are being restored in the entire J&K,” tweeted Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary -J&K Administration on Friday.
India suspended 4G mobile internet services in 2019, following the BJP led Central government’s decision to scrap the special status of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state.
On August 5, 2019, the central government abrogated Article 370, ending J&K’s special status. It split the state into two Union Territories – J&K and Ladakh. In wake of this move, the Centre the shutdown mobile internet services to stop the spread of misinformation by separatists and cross border terrorist groups.
The Centre faced heavy criticism for its two decisions of Abrogation of Article 370 and the shutdown of mobile internet services within and outside India. In fact, a petition was file in the Supreme Court last August against challenging the Centre government’s decision to block mobile services in J&K.
In reply, the Centre government had told the Supreme Court that a special committee was accessing the situation in J&K with regard to the restoration of internet services and allowing 4G internet on a trail basis.
Following this, the Centre government decided to provide 4G internet services in only two districts of Ganderbal and Udhampur. It had setup 4G internet services centres at those district administrations, while the rest of J&K had access to 2G internet services.
People and businesses in J&K have welcomed the Centre’s decision to restore high-speed 4G internet services.
However, India was not alone country in the world that imposes internet shutdown from a security perspective.
There were over 90 countries across the globe that had frequently imposed internet shutdown in 2020. According to a UK based security privacy and security research company, Top10VPN’s report released this year.
The report’s list includes India, Belarus, Myanmar, Yemen, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Tanzania, Venezuela and Somalia. China and North Korea are not on this report’s list as both countries are known to restrict access to the internet.
Internet shutdowns is increasingly becoming a contentious issue largely driven by geopolitical and security reasons. And obviously, it causes a huge economic impact as well.
In 2020, India topped the list of countries in terms of internet shutdown led economic losses with $2.8 billion 2020 as per the report. In 2019, India suffered economic losses of over 1.3 billion due to internet shutdowns.