Restore 4G Internet services in J&K : Amnesty International

Unwarranted restrictions on content, dissemination of information adds to panic around the pandemic

New Delhi, Mar 19: Amnes­ty International India on Thursday urged the govern­ment of India to immediately restore high-speed 4G inter-net services in Jammu and Kashmir to help people in preparing against the spread of Coronavirus.

Executive director Amnest International (India) Avinash Kumar, in a statement, said the COVID-19 situation was constantly evolving and to ensure its full communica­tion to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the govern­ment of India must urgently lift internet restrictions in the region and ensure real time preparedness of the people against the spread of the virus.

“The responses to Coro­navirus can’t be based on human rights violations and a lack of transparency and cen­sorship,” the statement said.

It said that despite four positive cases of Coronavirus being confirmed in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir – three in Jammu and one in Kashmir, the government has ordered the continued restrictions on full internet services such as restricting speed to 2G in the region.

The Kashmir Valley reported the first COVID­19 case on Wednesday. The infected person, a Woman from Srinagar had recently returned from Saudi Arabia.

“Complete internet shutdowns have also been imposed intermittently in certain areas in the guise of security. There is growing anxiety around the pandemic and unwarranted restrictions on content and dissemination of information only stands to add to the panic,” the AI statement said.

“Complete shutdowns or restricting of internet speed or access makes it difficult . for people to navigate their way through a difficult time further undermining their trust in the authorities,” the statement said.

The government of India needs to adopt a “rights-respecting” approach to pro­tect public health and restore the access to 4G speed inter-net, Kumar said.

Human rights approach must be at the centre of all prevention, preparedness, containment, and treatment efforts to protect public health and support the most vulnerable groups, he said.

Kumar said the right to health as guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides for the right to access healthcare.

The high speed mobile internet service remains suspended in Kashmir since August 5 last year, when the Centre abrogated special status of Jammu and Kash­mir and divided the erstwhile state into two Union Territo­ries (UT).

The broadband and fixed line internet service and 2G mobile internet service of all cellular companies was restored more than a month ago

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