Almost 17 months after the internet was first blocked in Jammu & Kashmir, India is restoring full 4G coverage in the region. The announcement was made official by the government’s official spokesperson Rohit Kansal.
In August 2019, India’s Home Minister Amit Shah moved to abolish Article 370 in the parliament to strip the state of its autonomy. The government blocked internet and communication services for millions in the region saying that it wants to control the unrest and misinformation. The state is now reconstituted as two union territories: Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
Citizens in the region had to wait till October 2019 to get their internet connection back. But this move was just restricted to postpaid subscribers, leaving tons of prepaid users in the dark. The government restored internet access in a staggered manner afterward through various allow lists with a limited number of sites. In March, restrictions on sites were lifted, but mobile connectivity was still confined to 2G for prepaid connections.
[Read: The human cost of a year of internet blackouts in Kashmir]
The internet shutdown and other restrictions had a serious impact on people’s livelihood. As per a report published by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, businesses lost over $5.3 billion after the blackout.
This was one of the longest-running internet shutdowns in democratic countries. Raman Chima, Asia Pacific Policy director at internet rights non-profit Access Now, said that the previous shutdown was excessive and mindlessly repeated.
Last August, the government restored 4G in two parts of Kashmir on a trial basis but didn’t provide any timeline for full restoration. Now, finally, it has allowed 4G connectivity for all the people in the region.