Srinagar: People in Kashmir will now be able to use 2G mobile internet services on postpaid as well as prepaid phones, over five months after it was shut as part of a communication blackout that was enforced following the central government’s Article 370 move in August last year.
However, internet users will only be able to access around 300 websites that have been whitelisted by the civil administration.
Social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube will remain blacklisted, according to the notification issued by the home department of Jammu and Kashmir administration late Friday night.
“Access shall be limited only to the whitelisted sites and not to any social media applications allowing peer to peer communications and Virtual Private Network applications,” the notification stated.
At the media centre in Srinagar, journalists were unable to access social media sites Saturday.
Websites of all political parties, including the BJP, National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and the Congress, also remain blacklisted.
The home department has further ordered that internet services shall be available on postpaid connections and on pre-paid sim cards of those customers whose credentials have been verified according to the norms followed for postpaid connections.
The order is effective until 31 January, stated the notification.
Which are the whitelisted websites
The websites that have been whitelisted include around 85 sites categorised as “utilities”, 60 news websites, over 45 education sites, 14 banking sites, 12 search engine websites, 19 travel sites, 18 entertainment websites and four mail websites — Yahoo, Outlook, Gmail and Rediff.
Websites of non-governmental organisations — Amnesty International, Ford Foundation, HelpAge India, Save the Children and Smile Foundation — are also whitelisted.
Among other websites that have been whitelisted are automobile websites, employment sites such as Naukri.com, and government websites, including the J&K police, UIDAI, GST department, passport offices and other essential official sites.
The largest category among the whitelisted websites is that of those classified as utilities. These include online shopping websites like Myntra, Flipkart, Amazon, websites of courier companies, Swiggy, Zamato, Jio chat, Fabindia and Paytm.
Travel websites Trivago, Yatra, Cleartrip and official sites of airlines are also among the whitelisted websites.
Video-streaming websites such as Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar, which are classified as entertainment, have also been whitelisted. It is yet to be seen whether these sites can be easily accessed at 2G internet speed.
A senior government official said that no official panel was set up to undertake the whitelisting of the websites.
“The civil administration sought inputs from the police on which websites to whitelist. The process of whitelisting is a continuous one and is being done jointly by officials of the home department and police force,” the official added.
A senior police officer told ThePrint that ideally administration officials should have invited individuals from each sector and industry for their inputs as to which websites are important to be whitelisted.
“We might be doing this as well, but for now whitelisting of websites is being done by the (administration) officials. The websites are being whitelisted after thorough checks of the content of the pages. If there are some essential websites that have been left out, it is because the process is being streamlined,” the officer added.
Some of the websites have been listed twice, including ThePrint, Outlook and Moneycontrol.