More than 8 million people who live in Kashmir are unable to depend on the internet to get reliable information about the coronavirus pandemic, work from home, or attend classes online.
Kashmir was thrust into a digital black hole in August after India’s Hindu nationalist government revoked an article of the country’s constitution that guaranteed the region a degree of autonomy, and shut down all communication, including the internet and phone lines. In March, the government finally restored the region’s internet, but only at highly restricted speeds that make accessing anything beyond simple text messages over WhatsApp nearly impossible.
A new government order, which was released Tuesday, has extended the region’s existing restrictions on internet speed until March 26 to “prevent misuse of social media applications” and following “recent terror activities” in the region. But locals said that the restrictions on internet speed are unacceptable at a time when access to timely and reliable information about the coronavirus is crucial.
Mitigate Risks Of Covid-19 For The People Of Jammu & Kashmir By Immediately Restoring Full Access To Internet Services (Mar 19, 2020, Amnesty International)
‘An Hour to Download ICU Guidelines’: Amid COVID-19, Kashmir Doctors Struggle With Slow Internet (Mar 20, 2020, The Wire)
Journalism in Kashmir in ‘state of repression’: Media watchdog (Mar 18, 2020, Al Jazeera)
Jammu and Kashmir economy has collapsed due to restrictions imposed since last August: Manish Tewari (Mar 18, 2020, Financial Express)