In a new development, the administration of newly-formed Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has lifted curbs imposed on social media, reports said on Wednesday. The speed will, however, remain restricted to 2G and these services will not be extended to pre-paid SIMs, the authorities underlined.
The restrictions were junked (albeit partially) seven months after the area was put under intense lockdown last year.
In August 2019, the BJP, buoyed by a historic mandate, moved a Bill in the Parliament to scrap provisions of Article 370, which granted special status to J&K.
The state, which has a bloodied militancy past, was also bifurcated into two UTs.
To deal with any violent fallout of the move, the government deployed heavy forces and snapped communication modes, including the internet.
The clampdown led to concerns among rights activists, but the government assured to lift them with time.
This development came after media reports suggested the administration sought help from San Jose-based Cisco in blocking social media websites.
The tech company, accused of building a firewall, denied the reports, saying it strongly believes in freedom of expression.
"Cisco strongly supports free expression and open communication on the Internet, and our policies and practices are well-established in this area. We build our products to comply with global standards and sell our products globally," a spokesperson told NDTV.
In January, the Supreme Court noted that indefinite restrictions stifled the freedom, as it ordered the authorities to explore "alternate means".
A bench of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy, and BR Gavai said, "It is no doubt that freedom of speech is an essential tool in a democratic setup. Freedom of Internet access is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of free speech."
Meanwhile, the SC has agreed to hear a plea filed by Sara Abdullah Pilot, the sister of former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.
The NC leader has been under preventive detention since August 5 and was charged with the stringent Public Safety Act.
Noting that the petition concerns personal liberty, the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee promised to take it up tomorrow.
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