Srinagar, Mar 31: At a time when coronavirus pandemic is consuming lives and shutting down the entire world, the continuous shutdown of high-speed mobile internet service in Jammu & Kashmir has irked the people here, who feel that absence of the facility is a great hurdle in speedy healthcare and dissemination of vital information.
From political leaders to Amnesty International, everyone in Kashmir has been urging government to restore 4G internet services but despite passing of seven months the service is still barred.
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah has said he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the return of 4G services without which, he said, the advisory to work and study from home was unfeasible.
Many others too have voiced the same demand, among them Iltija Mufti, daughter of the jailed former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.
But all the demands have not been accepted by the government and now people have pinned hopes that government may restore the service during this week.
Jammu Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) President Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari had also urged the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister to restore high speed mobile Internet, one of the prerequisites, in taking up preventive measures against the spread of Coronavirus-19 in Jammu and Kashmir.
Bukhari added that restoration of 4G mobile internet services in Jammu and Kashmir would enable people especially the students, businessmen and employees to remain engaged inside their homes, thereby effectively containing the global pandemic COVID-19.
The former J&K CM Omar Abdullah also tweeted: “If you are going to restore our 4g then please just go ahead & do it. Stop messing with our heads with these “orders” “fake orders” & “denials”. Why should we be made to feel like beggars for restoration of basic services the rest of the nation take for granted?”
Similarly in a letter, Srinagar Municipal Corporation Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu urged the Home Minister Amit Shah to restore the internet “People are being advised to work/study from home but this is impossible with 2G internet speed and limited fixed line internet penetration,” Abdullah said and added, “I would, therefore, request you to restore 4G internet services in Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest to ease the suffering of the people.”
But there has been no let-up in the speed restrictions as the curbs have been extended. Both all the letters, tweets and statements have been met with cold response so far.
Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) president GN Var spoke to India Today and said that sitting idle at homes for months together diminishes creativity of students. And it has been more than seven months for students to stay home after the government of India locked down the region to prevent protests against abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019. “The loss could have been compensated by online classes. But I fail to find logic in restricting internet when everyone. We don’t want schooling should be affected but nobody is paying heed to our pleas,” says Var, who has highlighted the issue with authorities to no avail.
Pertinently on March 26, the Jammu and Kashmir administration ordered the continuance of 2G mobile data services in the union territory till April 3 even as there has been a growing demand for restoration of high-speed 4G internet in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Principal Secretary, Home Department, Shaleen Kabra said the internet speed on mobile phones will be restricted to 2G only