J&K lost 18 days of mobile internet over last 4 years

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Residents of Jammu and Kashmir have collectively lost access to high-quality Internet connectivity for anywhere between 18 to 25 days over the last four years, according to an analysis of Internet shutdowns in the region.

Data from Freedom House reports, media accounts and government notifications shows that from January 2012, there have been at least 12 publically reported instances of the central or state government ordering a shutdown or partial blocking of Internet services.

The Internet block orders come in a number of shapes and forms. They range from the blocking of social media such as Facebook and YouTube (during the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ movie backlash) to the blocking of mobile Internet services in specific localities within Jammu & Kashmir.

The vast majority of Internet shutdowns, however, have affected the whole state and involve the shutting down of 3G services and broadband connectivity. The conditions under which Internet access is usually curtailed fall under two major categories: protests and agitations, and precautionary measures.

The vast majority of Internet shut-downs come right after there are reports of violent protests and agitations in the region. For instance, the longest publically reported instance of Internet shutdown (five days) happened from August 10 to August 15, 2013, after clashes between Hindu and Muslim communities took place in southern Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir. Internet services offered by multiple cellular companies, including the 3G networks of BSNL, Airtel and Reliance, were disconnected.

On similar lines, mobile Internet service and broadband connectivity were stopped for one day on June 18, 2013, and June 15, 2015, because protests had sprung up in the northern Peerbagh locality and the Jammu district.

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