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India extends Jammu-Kashmir internet ban until June 17

SRINAGAR,India

The ban on high-speed internet in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir has been extended until June 17.

According to a government order made Wednesday night, the decision to limit internet connectivity in the disputed region was “necessary” and in the interest of the “sovereignty and integrity of India.”

Other reasons cited include a recent spate of militant attacks on Indian forces, militant infiltration from Pakistani-administered Kashmir, and their use of high-speed internet to “disturb public order by uploading provocative videos and false propaganda.”

The region’s high-speed internet has been cut off since last August, when India revoked its semi-autonomous status, divided it into two federally ruled territories, and imposed a complete lockdown and communications blackout.

When the Supreme Court stepped in, the Indian government only restored mobile internet services this January, first in Hindu-dominated Jammu and then in Muslim-majority Kashmir regions.

However, only government-authorized “whitelisted” websites were accessible. Restrictions on social media remained in force until March 4.

India frequently shuts down mobile internet in the area, particularly during clashes between militants and government forces.

Earlier this month, services were suspended for three days in the capital Srinagar after two militants were killed in a gunfight in a densely populated area on May 19.

Numerous human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have repeatedly urged India to restore full internet access in the disputed region, with the calls gaining steam amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disputed region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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