The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has told the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that it did not have any objection in restoring 4G internet services, and that high-speed Net connectivity would not pose any problem.
“We have been making (a) representation for this… I feel that 4G will not be a problem. I am not afraid how people will use this. Pakistan will do its propaganda, whether it is 2G or 4G. It will always be there… But I don’t see an issue,” Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu said.
This is a change in the earlier position taken by the J&K administration two months ago in May.
In an affidavit filed on Thursday in the Supreme Court, the Centre had said that a special committee set up to examine the demands for restoring 4G services, following the orders of the court on May 11, had met twice on May 15 and June 10, and arrived at a decision that “no further relaxation of the restrictions on Internet services, including 4G services, would be carried out at present”.
The special committee comprises the Union Home Secretary, Department of Telecommunications Secretary and the Chief Secretary of J&K.
On May 11, the J&K administration had sought the dismissal of a plea by the Foundation for Media Professionals at the Supreme Court by pointing out that high-speed internet would enable the spread of fake news/ rumours, and transfer of heavy audio/ video files, which could be used by terror outfits for incitement as also in planning attacks.
To another question on the J&K Information Department’s Media Policy 2020, which empowers the DIPR (Department of Information and Public Relations) to examine media content for fake news, plagiarism and unethical or anti-national activities, Lt Governor Murmu said, “I will check this, this is not required. There are relevant IPC/ CrPC and other laws for this.”
The policy, implemented by the Information Department on May 15, 2020, said, “DIPR shall examine the content of the print, electronic and other forms of media for fake news, plagiarism, unethical or anti-national activities.” Any individual or group indulging in this shall be de-empanelled, it said.
“A suitable mechanism with specific ToRs (terms of reference) shall be set up by the DIPR for monitoring the above and ensuring adherence to the guidelines,” it said.
Murmu said the policy was primarily revised to give space to the electronic and social media. “Advertisements were given only to print and local media – patronage. People haven’t done anything for electronic and social media,” he said.
He emphasised that other things in the policy were normal. “If you see the government of India or other states’, the accreditation policy depends on circulation, readership, etc. The policy follows the same things… there is nothing discriminatory,” he said.
The Lieutenant Governor said that the DIPR did not have the capacity to decide whether a news is “anti-national.”
“This obviously, only the agencies can check. We can delete this also (from the revised media policy). They (DIPR) only have to do the checks required for accreditation, but not facts… if there is such a situation, they will get it checked from agencies. What is ‘anti-national’ is a parameter of law… the Supreme Court has given judgements on this from time to time… Again, agencies or police will have to do (look into this),” he said.
“I have already told the Information Department to re-check all this,” Murmu said.