APP DigitalISLAMABAD, Jan 24 (APP): As the world grapples for digital inclusion in the COVID-19 era, Narendra Modi’s fascist regime is putting cart before the horse by imposing a communication blackout in IIOJK, with an internet ban.

With the world bodies like the United Nations and World Economic Forum urging the governments to bridge the digital divide exposed by COVID-19, for economic as well as educational activities, the BJP government is intentionally depriving the Kashmiri people of their right to digital connectivity.

Perturbed by the communication blackout, the Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking restoration of 4G mobile Internet services.

Instead of realizing the criticality of the situation and restoring the internet, the Jammu and Kashmir administration instead extended the ban on high-speed mobile data services across the Union Territory till February 6, jeopardizing the schoolchildren’s future.

According to data compiled by an internet analysis service, Jammu and Kashmir had the slowest internet of 0.8 megabits per second among the 20 most populated states and territories. Telangana has 16.1 Mbps internet speed, West Bengal (13.6), Punjab 11.8, Assam (11.1), Bihar and Delhi (10.6) and Uttar Pradesh (9.8).

“The children of Jammu and Kashmir have already lost two academic years because it is impossible to conduct online classes using video-conferencing tools such as Zoom or WebEx at 2G mobile Internet speed,” the school’s body said in the petition.
Schools saw prolonged closures after the Indian unilateral action of August 5, 2019, and then on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to the association, which represents over 3,800 schools, the denial of access to education has taken a toll on the mental health of children. “We hope the court will restore 4G mobile Internet access to protect the future of our students,” the association spokesman said.

Though the IIOJK administration claimed to provide 2G service in the territory, the on-ground situation is that the territory is under a complete communication blackout.

The RSS-backed Modi regime which had imposed the strictest lockdown in IIOJK and turning it into the world’s largest prison is still afraid of the innocent civilians as according to the administration, the internet restrictions were aimed at stopping the “dissemination of inflammatory and seditious propaganda material”.

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According to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, “the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of digital technologies and transformation, and on the urgent need to enhance the role of the IGF as a platform for dialogue on proposed solutions.”

“Those without access to digital technology – almost half the world – are denied opportunities to study, communicate, trade, shop, work and participate in much of modern life,” the Secretary-General recalled.

The World Economic Forum said more than one billion children across the globe are currently locked out of classrooms because of quarantine measures. No matter that teachers are running daily online classes – many of these children simply cannot take part.-

-Special Report for APP Digital by Ishtiaq Ahmed