NEW DELHI: The Indian Supreme Court on Friday ruled the communications blackout in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) as unconstitutional and ordered the authorities to review the measures within a week’s time.
The court said the indefinite suspension violated India’s telecoms rules. “Freedom of Internet access is a fundamental right,” Supreme Court justice N. V. Ramana said, delivering the ruling.
As a security measure to prevent the spread of dissent in IoK after stripping the region of constitutional autonomy in August last year, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi snapped all public telecommunications connections including mobile phones and internet, arguing it was essential to maintain calm.
Although some mobile phone connections have since been restored, the internet shutdown is still in place in parts of the Himalayan region.
The loss of internet has been severely disrupted the lives of around seven million people in the Kashmir valley, impacting everything from college admissions to businesses filing tax returns.
“The court also said the freedom of press is impacted by the shutdown,” Vrinda Grover, an advocate representing petitioners, which include journalists and civil society members.
“It is an abuse of power.”