Even as the government denied restoring 4G internet connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, 27 March, doctors and other experts have written an open letter to PM Narendra Modi highlighting the need for faster internet to help tackle the coronavirus crisis.
The J&K Home department, on Thursday, said the decision to extended the ban till 3 April “was taken after considering the overall security and the reports of the law enforcement agencies inter alia”.
This comes even as Kashmir reported its first coronavirus-related death on Thursday and recorded at least a dozen positive cases. The union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been facing an internet blackout since 5 August when the Modi government abrogated Article 370.
As India went into a nationwide lockdown amid escalating cases of COVID-19 across the country, Kashmiri doctors and locals took to social media to express concerns over the slow internet connections and delays in accessing healthcare information.
The letter states, “The intermittent access to internet or its slow speed due to 2G services in Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh will aggravate the public health crisis.”
The letter adds, “In 2016, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly, declared access to internet to be a basic human right and as integral for individuals to exercise their rights. Slow speed internet such as 2G services does not allow access to most sites, and prevents people from accessing vital and important health information, especially with regard to prevention and treatment of COVID-19.”
“The rights of the people, including health professionals, to universal access to information, protective equipment, medicines, testing kits, as well as other support services for their well-being must be fulfilled.”
A few days ago, an order, citing the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which claimed that the government of India has decided to restore 4G internet in Jammu was circulated on social media.
Taking to Twitter, the Department of Information and Public Relations, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, confirmed that the order being circulated is fake.
We’ll get through this! Meanwhile, here’s all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated.