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Restoration of 4G services will boost economic recovery in J&K: Trade bodies

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Srinagar: Trade bodies and tourism players on Saturday welcomed the restoration of 4G mobile Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir, saying it will boost economic recovery in the union territory.

High-speed mobile Internet services were restored last midnight in 18 districts. The services were there in two districts – Ganderbal and Udhampur – since August last year.

“It is better late than never. The government has realised how much losses our economy has suffered. This move will give a boost to the economic recovery now,” president, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Sheikh Aashiq said.

“Every sector was affected, especially our export-oriented industry which officially declined 40-50 percent due to its non-availability. The low speed 2G services did not serve the purpose,” he said.

Restoration of high-speed mobile Internet would especially help the young, budding entrepreneurs who are dependent on social media, he said.

“Though the government has realised it now, the impact of non-availability of high-speed internet will last long. It will last until the government realises how to boost them, to provide them sops or cushion for running their businesses,” he said.

Aashiq said education was one of the most important sectors which suffered a great deal over the last year-and-a-half.

He hoped that the security situation remains good so that these services continue without any interruption.

The Valley’s tourism industry termed it a big confidence building measure for tourism and other sectors.

“The tourism fraternity and all the stakeholders thank the government for the restoration of 4G services in J&K. It is a welcome step and a big confidence building measure for tourism and allied sectors,” said Asif Burza, a hotelier and president of Pahalgam Hotel and Restaurant Owners Association.

He said the move will not only give a sense of confidence to the tourists, but will also help the industry in providing better logistics and services.

Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) termed the restoration of 4G Internet as helpful for the student community.

“The 4G internet will definitely help our students who had been at a huge disadvantage over the last so many months. It was kind of a collective punishment to us for no fault and it pushed us years back. Our schools suffered, other educational institutes suffered as no one could work at its optimum,” said PSAJK president G N Var.

He, however, said the government could have shown a small courtesy by announcing its restoration with a small apology.

“Like Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), the PSAJK had been at the forefront of a legal battle to restore 4G internet and the hearing with regards to its petition in the Supreme Court was due next week. The government pre-empted the hearing because on what basis could they have again banned it.

“On the one hand they say the situation is normal and on the other the reason for the 4G ban was that the situation is not normal in Kashmir,” he said.

The association also demanded compensation for the loss caused due to Internet blockade. (With PTI Inputs)

People elated over restoration of 4G Internet services

Jammu (PTI):  Having faced several hardships for over 18 months due to the suspension of high-speed Internet, people of Jammu and Kashmir especially students, professionals and those belonging to the business community were elated on Saturday following the restoration of 4G mobile Internet services across the union territory.

However, the development once again brought into focus the demand for restoration of statehood to the Union Territory.

The high-speed mobile Internet was on Friday restored in Jammu and Kashmir, exactly one-and-a-half years after it was snapped in August 2019 when the Centre had abrogated the special status of the erstwhile state.

Internet was completely shut on August 05, 2019 when the government announced abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and also its bifurcation into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

On January 25 last year, 2G services were restored while 4G services on mobile devices in Ganderbal in Kashmir division and Udhampur in Jammu region was restarted in August last year.

People were seen congratulating each other and some politicians, mostly opposition leaders, used the occasion to advocate the restoration of statehood and early assembly polls.

Students were perhaps one of the worst-hit as they struggled to attend online classes during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“We welcome the development but no thanks to the government which deprived us of the fundamental right over the last 18 months,” Ankit Sharma, a college student said.

“Our education was hit after we were forced into homes due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and faced a lot of problems due to non-availability of the high speed internet,” he said.

Kanwaljeet Singh quipped “better late than never”.

Singh, a civil services aspirant, however, said the student community was the worst hit by the ban as the 2G service was not adequate for the online classes or preparing for an examination.

Law student Thakur Sunny said the announcement came as a pleasant surprise as it came at a time when schools and colleges have opened for offline classes.

“There would be no place in the world where 4G service remained suspended for over 550 days. What changed overnight? When the service was required the most it was kept suspended and now when the educational institutions reopened, the government restored it,” he said.

“I actually see some going out of their way to thank government functionaries for 4G restoration. They’re not offering us charity. We should be asking for compensation for our deprivation and losses,” journalist Anuradha Bhasin tweeted.

The business community also welcomed the restoration of 4G and said they can now enjoy all services without frequent disruptions.

Terming the 4G Internet service restoration as a “positive step”, Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) president Arun Gupta said this would fulfill the aspirations of people, youth and business community in particular.

“This will also solve the problems for trade and industry to a great extent regarding generation of e-way bills and e-filing of various documents including GST returns,” he said.

Former minister and vice-president of J&K Congress G M Saroori too welcomed the development and said restoration of statehood should be the next step of the central government followed by free and fair elections.

“For a long time, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been deprived of their legitimate rights. After a period of 18 months, the internet has been restored and during these tough 18 months, our children have suffered a lot in terms of education,” he said.

He also lauded the speech by his party colleague and leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad recently wherein he supporting restoration of other rights including statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

Additional spokesperson of National Conference Sarah Hayat Shah, in a tweet, said, “Well good to know 4G is being restored across the entire J&K. The Government of India must restore our rights (Article 370, 35(A), Statehood) as well.”

National Panthers Party chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh asked how can the Centre justify the 18-month ban.

“They (Centre) made people face hardships for the last one and a half years and even charged money for 4G internet while providing 2G service. Is there any accountability or not?” he said.

“What is the difference in the situation now and at the time of snapping of internet 18 months earlier?” he added.

Advocating restoration of statehood and early assembly elections to end the “proxy rule” of BJP in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “The actions over the last few years demonstrate the dictatorial and authoritarian approach of the government which is against the constitution and democracy.”

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