NEW DELHI: Autho­rities in occupied Kashmir will restore text messaging services in the disputed region on Wednesday, almost five months after India’s government downgraded its semi-autonomy and imposed a strict security and communications lockdown, an official said on Tuesday.

Local government spokesman Rohit Kansal said the decision was made after a review of the situation.

He said broadband internet services in government-run hospitals will also be restored.

The curbs on broadband internet and mobile internet services for other users will remain.

Authorities fear that insurgents and separatists demanding independence from Indian rule will use the internet to provoke protests in the region that could morph into large-scale street demonstrations.

Tensions in occupied Kashmir have escalated since New Delhi’s surprise decision in early August to downgrade the regions semi-autonomy. India followed the move by sending in tens of thousands of extra troops, detaining thousands of people and blocking cellphone and internet services.

The government had earlier said the restrictions on communication services were in the interest of maintenance of public order.

Some communications services, like post-paid and landline phones, were restored in October in a phased manner.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2020

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