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Postpaid Mobile Phone Services Restored In Kashmir, But Still No SMS, Prepaid And Internet Services

Srinagar: On Tuesday afternoon the entire Kashmir valley erupted in joy and jubilation after the central government partially restored the communication blockade after a span of 70 days.

The authorities restored the postpaid cellular services which brought hope and happiness back amid the ongoing uncertainty among the people of Kashmir.

According to reports, at least 40 lakh postpaid phones were restored in Kashmir leaving the prepaid subscribers disappointed as they are yet to be restored.

Soon after the restoration of mobile phone services, people started talking to their relatives for hours together.

Fahmeeda Begum of Mustafabad, Srinagar couldn’t hold her tears as she spoke to her son, Mohammad Ubar, who studies Horticulture in Jammu some 300 kilometres away from Srinagar. She had to travel at least 3 Kilometers from her home to a local police station to speak to her son.

“Kashmir is passing through its worst phase right now, we are back to the stone age. For me, communication gag is the worst human rights violation,” she says.

However, just after a day of restoration of postpaid cellular services in the valley, the demand for the restoration of prepaid and internet services raised among the people of the region.

People requested the concerned authorities to resume prepaid mobile and internet services in the valley which continues to remain barred for 72 days causing huge inconvenience.

“Most of the people in the valley use prepaid phones so the authorities should restore the services so that other people can get a sigh of relief,” said Mohammad Iftiqar, a businessman from Northern Kashmir.

According to sources, Kashmir valley has around 30 lakh prepaid subscribers, most of who are from the middle class and poor families.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have a prepaid SIM thus couldn’t make a call to my brother, who works in the Army and is posted in Uttrakhand,” said Firdous Ahmad Dar, who was waiting in the cue of BSNL office to get a postpaid SIM at Srinagar.

Situation in Kashmir

Even as postpaid phones started ringing across Kashmir, normal life remains to be affected on the 73rd straight day with a cry for the restoration of internet and prepaid mobile phone services getting louder.

Life continues to remain paralyzed across the valley with all business establishments shut, schools closed, public transport off the roads even as ring tones on various mobiles could be heard almost on every street of Srinagar and elsewhere.

The revocation of the Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir through a Presidential order had triggered a spontaneous shutdown in the Kashmir region and to date, normal life continues to remain badly affected.

However, some private vehicles were seen plying on the different routes in the city amid thin deployment of paramilitary forces and barricades were also placed at various places of the downtown area.

SMS Blocked

SMS services were withdrawn as “precautionary measure” hours after the government restored postpaid mobile connections in Kashmir.

Around 5 pm, on Monday, SMS services were suspended too, dulling the euphoria of about 40 lakh subscribers delighted at the prospect of their phones coming back to life, officials said.

“SMS services were stopped last evening as a precautionary measure,” said an official to a news agency.

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Written By

Auqib Javeed is a Srinagar-based journalist.

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