İrem UZUN -TDO- Indian authorities lifted a ban on social media and restored full internet access in Kashmir on Wednesday evening, seven months after the disputed region was locked down and stripped of its partial autonomy. The order, which still places certain restrictions on mobile internet services, is only valid till March 17, unless extended.

The order issued by the region's home secretary, Shaleen Kabra, said internet access over fixed lines will be restricted to registered customers. “They have finally restored internet, but after destroying so many businesses and ruining so many careers,” said Khurshid Ahmet, a Kashmiri student. AK Srivastava, an official at state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the leading broadband service provider in Kashmir, told the Associated Press news agency it has begun implementing the new government order. When it imposed the internet ban in August, the government said it was necessary to prevent anti-India protests and attacks by rebels who have fought for decades for Muslim-majority Kashmir's independence or unification with Pakistan, which administers the other part of Kashmir.

Internet services were suspended across Jammu and Kashmir on Aug. 5 last year as part of a number of moves to quell popular protests in the disputed region, which is held by India and Pakistan in parts -- and claimed by both in full. Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan. According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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