Broadband internet to be restored in Kashmir Valley

Srinagar: Broadband internet will be restored in Kashmir Valley after more than five months of internet blackout, sources said. The process, which will be conducted in phases, will start on Wednesday or Thursday.
First it would be the turn of Central Kashmir including state capital Srinagar, which will be followed by north Kashmir (Kupwara, Bandipora and Baramulla) two days later. South Kashmir (Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag) comes last, after another two days, sources said.
The Lieutenant-Governor will then review the situation and take a call on the restoration of cellphone internet.
Kashmir Valley has been without internet since August – part of a number of restrictions imposed by the government as “precautionary measures” against backlash after it ended the state’s special status granted by Article 370 of the constitution and bifurcated it into two union territories.
The decision to restore it came after the Supreme Court, in response to a petition last week, ordered a review of all the restrictive orders that are still in place. This, the court said, should be done within a week.
“Suspension of free movement, Internet and basic freedoms cannot be an arbitrary exercise of power,” the court said.
Freedom of speech and expression through the internet is an “integral part of Article 19 (1)(A) of the constitution,” and any “expression of dissent or disagreement against a government decision cannot be reason for Internet suspension,” added the three-judge bench led by Justice NV Ramanna.
The court had also criticized the repeated use of Section 144, a British-era rule to ban large gatherings, in Jammu and Kashmir. “It can’t be used as a tool to oppress difference of opinion,” the court said.
The court asked the state to make public all the restrictive orders issued in in Jammu and Kashmir over the past five months so they can be challenged legally, the bench said.
Sources said the state government will comply with the Supreme Court directions.