Srinagar:The media fraternity in Jammu and Kashmir remains unhappy with the government authorities as internet services have not been restored despite the government’s order. Recently, the Jammu and Kashmir government restored mobile internet and broadband services after six months. However, people are getting frustrated with the low speed as they are not able to access the websites they want.
Sheeba Nazir, a student in Srinagar, said: “I have been trying to download study material to prepare for my examinations, but in the past few days, I am waiting only to get access. It is frustrating for me and other students.” Like Nazir, many other students have complained that they have not been able to access even those websites which have been declared as white-listed by the government. Recently, when the authorities lifted restrictions on internet and broadband services, they banned numerous websites and also all social media platforms for people of Kashmir.
The relatively slow 2G internet connectivity on mobiles has added to the anger of the business community and students. People involved in the tourism industry have said that they are forced to go to TRC Srinagar to access mails and get any information about tourists. Azeem Ahmad, a travel agent working in Srinagar, said: “We have to go to TRC Srinagar and it is useless to access 2G internet on our mobile phones. The government should shut this service as it is not helping us in any manner.”
Although the government’s order said that mobile data services and internet access through fixed-line shall be allowed across the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir with restrictions, journalists are frustrated that the fixed lines and broadband service have not been restored.
Senior editors and prominent working journalists in Kashmir have alleged that internet service providers were seeking a written undertaking from them to provide complete access to all content and infrastructure as and when required by the security agencies.
The Kashmir Press Club in a written statement has expressed dismay over the continuous internet blockade for journalists in Kashmir for the last 179 days. The Press Club, in a statement, described the move as a deliberate attempt to stifle the press in Kashmir. Senior journalists in Srinagar on Friday said that the government has singled out the media by not allowing restoration of internet services to their offices.
While social media platforms have been banned in Kashmir, the local administration and police have not included a majority of local news websites, national and international websites in the white list.
Hundreds of journalists and dozens of newspapers in Kashmir are dependent on the media centre at the State Information Department in Srinagar. However, as there is a huge rush of journalists at the media centre, the terminals available are not enough to meet the rush of journalists who go there to access the internet and file their stories.
The government in its order had given a list of 300 websites that have been white listed for the people in Jammu and Kashmir to access. These include email services, banking websites, education-related websites, job platforms, entertainment and sports websites, 13 websites for accessing government and other services, .