NEW DELHI—India said it would reinstate some internet access this week to millions of residents of the Kashmir Valley, but will continue to block mobile internet service and social-media sites as the government faces a continued backlash over its decision last year to end the special status of the Muslim-majority region.
Fixed-line internet services in essential institutions such as government offices, hospitals and banks will be reinstated within days, according to an order by local authorities issued late Tuesday.
Authorities ordered 400 additional fixed-line internet-service kiosks to be set up in the region to facilitate online access for residents. But the ban on mobile internet service, as well as the blocking of social media and private-network applications is still in effect, the order said.
Authorities said they would review the security situation after a week and decide whether to restore mobile internet services.
The easing of restrictions comes after India’s highest court last week ruled that indefinite suspension of internet services in Kashmir was unconstitutional and impermissible.
On Aug. 5, India imposed a total communications lockdown as it revoked the Muslim-majority state’s autonomy under the constitution. The Kashmir region has been disputed since the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent. Both Pakistan and India claim parts of the region as their own, with each controlling a share.
The Indian government has defended that the communications lockdown as needed to thwart attacks by militants and prevent violent protests. But the extraordinary length and comprehensiveness of the policy has hampered attempts to return the Kashmir Valley to normalcy.
The internet blackout, which has lasted for more than 150 days, is the longest ever imposed in a democracy, according to India’s SFLC.in, a group that advocates for digital freedom. There were more than 4,000 hours of internet blackouts last year in India, costing its economy about $1.3 billion in lost commerce and productivity, U.K.-based technology-research firm Top10VPN said in a recent report.
—Rajesh Roy contributed to this article.
Write to Vibhuti Agarwal at firstname.lastname@example.org
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