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India Moves to Restore Internet Access Across Kashmir Amid Calls to Lift Connection Restrictions

© AP Photo / Rajesh Kumar SinghAn Indian youth uses the internet at a cyber cafe in Allahabad, India.
An Indian youth uses the internet at a cyber cafe in Allahabad, India. - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): India's government has decided to set up internet kiosks across the disputed Kashmir region in an attempt to minimise difficulties facing civilians. The people of the state have been facing unprecedented communications blockades since 5 August, when New Delhi nullified Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which had guaranteed quasi-autonomy to the state for seven decades.

A government order issued on Saturday claimed that the state administration has set up at least five internet kiosk terminals in all 10 districts of the state.

The facilities are available for students, contractors, those filing e-tenders, and for submitting forms and job applications. Officials have said that it can also be used by tour operators.

The move comes two days after the Centre restored all landline connections and made mobile phone services functional in the districts of Kupwara and Handwara in Jammu and Kashmir.

Similarly, the statement suggests that nine Internet counters are also available for airlines in Srinagar city for ticketing purposes.

Earlier in the day, the country's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, while interacting with media in New Delhi, said that around 92 percent of the geographical area of the state had been made off-bounds and the government is trying to restore normalcy in the valley soon.

"In any society, people always want more than what they have. But to us his life is more important," Doval said while justifying the mobile and internet restrictions, as he claimed that they can easily be used by Pakistan for subversive activities.

The government claimed that only 10 of the 199 police districts in Kashmir, Jammu and Laddakh now still have prohibitory orders, while land-line telephones have been restored fully in all three areas.

Doval opined that Pakistan would very much like to see unrest in the valley.

"We will not allow people to become victims of Pakistan's machinations and its bullets sent across the border. We will do everything in our power to protect the people," he said.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan exchanged heavy firing along the Line of Control (LoC) earlier in the day, with the Indian army claiming that Pakistan had initiated a ceasefire violation by launching mortar shells in Krishna Ghati sector, the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, while Indian Army retaliated.

Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan since they gained freedom from British colonial rule in 1947. Both govern it in parts but claim it in full.

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