Srinagar, May 27: As many as 48 rights groups from different parts of the world, including US-based Human Rights Watch(HRW), has written to the World Health Organisation to press the Government of India to restore internet access in Kashmir.
In the letter to WHO, the rights groups have stated that India’s authorities have restricted internet access to only slow-speed 2G in J&K from March 2020 after lifting a seven-month blanket internet shutdown in the Union Territory.
“We received several reports indicating that residents in Jammu and Kashmir are unable to access information about COVID-19 due to the restriction on high-speed 4G internet access in these areas. Most important, doctors and other health workers who are fighting to prevent the spread of the virus are struggling to download intensive care management guidelines published on various digital platforms in the country,” reads the letter, a copy of which is available with the news agency KNO.
It also states that research by experts in India has also shown that the restrictions on 4G connectivity make access to video conferencing – currently a critical lifeline throughout India and much of the world – virtually impossible to access and use.
The groups have also asked WHO Director-General Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab to urge the governments of Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan to restore full access to the internet.
“Since June 2019, the government of Myanmar has ordered all mobile phone operators to shut down internet access in nine townships in Rakhine and Chin States; since 2016, authorities have denied residents of the tribal districts in Pakistan access to the internet; and since September 2019, Bangladeshi authorities have cut off internet access in the refugee camps where more than a 800,000 Rohingya are currently living,” the letter reads.(KNO)