In Kashmir, ban on 4G internet forces many to stay away from families

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Mir Jalal, a professional working in New Delhi could have spent this Ramadhan with family in Srinagar after years.

Like other organizations, his office allowed employees to work from home days before the government announced countrywide lockdown to prevent spread of coronavirus.

But unlike his colleagues, he could not shift to his Srinagar home owing to ban on high-speed or 4G internet in Kashmir.

Like Jalal many Kashmiri professionals, researchers and students who are into jobs or studying in different parts of India were forced to stay away from their families.

These professionals working away from their families in a deadly viral outbreak say that a small step by government could have given them a great opportunity to stay among their loved ones while performing their professional work.

“Few days before the country-wide lock down was implemented, our organization like others instructed us to work from home. Many of my colleagues, friends from other states of India moved to their home as their companies also asked them to work from home,” Jalal told Greater Kashmir over phone.

“I work with an independent research organization as a media assistant and my job usually requires me to work with high end software which requires high-speed internet. I had to stay back as I cannot continue my work on 2G internet. Other than working with high-end software, my job usually deals in uploading multimedia content on internet. In Kashmir, with 2G internet it takes overnight to download a pdf file. Working in such conditions is impossible for a professionals like me,” he said.

These professionals say if restrictions on 4G internet had been lifted, they could have been with their families like everyone else in the country.

Shahid Hussain works in an IT company at Bangalore and is also pursuing an online academic course. He said both his studies and work were internet-driven, which he could have done from his home had there been no restrictions on 4G internet.

“The availability of even 2G internet service is uncertain in Kashmir. You never know when situation will take a twist in Kashmir and there will be not even 2G and in such circumstances you can end up losing your job. My work is IT-driven so it is impossible to work on throttled internet. Back home one cannot benefit from online classes as well when you have a very low speed internet. In such cases many Kashmiris like me are forced to stay away from home,” Shahid said.

Despite repeated calls from students, professional and many politicians to resume high speed internet in Kashmir, J&K administration on Monday again extended the ban on internet till May 11th in Kashmir.