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Terrorists using encrypted mobile communications to reactivate cadre in Kashmir: Government

JAMMU: Terror outfits are using encrypted mobile communications and Voice on Internet Protocol (VoIP) to plan infiltrations into India and reactivate their cadre in Kashmir, the Jammu and Kashmir government said on Wednesday.

This is a well-established fact, government spokesman Rohit Kansal told reporters here.

“Sustained efforts are being made by terrorists to infiltrate from across the border, reactivate their cadre and scale-up anti-national activities not only in the Kashmir division but also in some areas of the Jammu division by using Voice on Internet Protocol and encrypted mobile communications, and through various social media applications to coordinate and plan terrorist activities,” he said.

VoIP is phone service over the Internet.

Kansal said in light of the constitutional changes made in relation to Jammu and Kashmir in August last year, a number of restrictions were imposed to prevent externally aided terrorists from disturbing the peace and inflicting casualties on citizens.

The government on August 5 last year had revoked the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split it into union territories of Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Since August 16, 2019, there has been gradual, consistent and progressive removal of restrictions, and most now stand removed, Kansal said.

“Landline and mobile telephones, SMS facilities have been made fully functional. Fixed-line broadband facility exists in the Jammu division while in the Kashmir Division, to facilitate the general public, students, etc, 844 e-terminals have been established, besides 69 special counters for tourists, apart from separate terminals for filling GST returns and application forms for various examinations,” he said.

Kansal, who is principal secretary, planning and development, in the Union territory administration, said a number of government departments, including those related to essential services, and state-run hospitals have access to broadband internet services.

The spokesman said after carefully considering all aspects, taking into account the law and order situation, and potential threats to security, the competent authority has decided that all institutions providing essential services such as hospitals, banks and government offices, as well as trade, tourism and travel establishments in Kashmir will be provided broadband facilities.

Existing access and communication facilities in Kashmir will be further enhanced by establishing an additional 400 internet kiosks, Kansal said.

In addition, 2G mobile connectivity on postpaid mobiles for accessing white listed websites such as e-banking will be allowed in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi districts, he said.

Complying with the Supreme Court’s directions issued on January 10, the government on Tuesday evening ordered restoration of 2G mobile internet services on postpaid connections in the five districts in the Jammu division and broadband facilities in both Jammu and Kashmir divisions only for institutions dealing with essential services and tourism, such as hospitals, banks and hotels.

The order, issued by Principal Secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra late on Tuesday, however, did not restore mobile internet services for the Kashmir division.

“There shall be a complete restriction on social media applications. The full details of facilitations, as well as safeguards, have already been outlined in the government order issued by the competent authority yesterday,” Kansal said.

He said the government’s endeavour has been and will remain to facilitate as much and as quickly as possible.

“The overall efforts of the government have been not only to ease restrictions effectively and quickly but also to keep the restrictions to a bare minimum, based on the ground situation and to provide people adequate facilitation wherever required”, he said.