Eye on comeback, Omar lifts SMS ban

 Srinagar: An official spokesman Tuesday said the ban on text messaging through prepaid cellular networks has been removed “on the instructions of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.” 

“The subscribers of prepaid cell phones had made requests to the Chief Minister in this regard and he issued instructions to the concerned agencies to lift the said restriction,” the spokesman said in a statement .

The Short Message Services (SMS) to all the prepaid mobile subscribers had been suspended vide Government Order No. Home -1479 of 2010 in December 2010, soon after the massive street protests in Kashmir. The move was aimed at discouraging mass mobilization of separatist campaigns as police believed that the separatists would sent across group messages and mobilize people against the government. 

The decision had sparked a political turmoil and the opposition leader Mehbooba Mufti took to streets against the ban. Various groups had moved court against the ban. “The order to ban the SMS on prepaid subscribers in the state was ordered by the Home Department of J&K Government,” the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited had submitted before the State Human Rights Commission.

After huge public outcry and fierce criticism on facebook, the ban was partially removed from postpaid SIMs but the subscribers of the prepaid SIM cards had to be content with the ban while enjoying no rebate on charges. 

Meanwhile the fastest growing telecom operator Aircel has claimed to be the first to start SMS service on its prepaid SIMs. “Aircel’s timely and effective business preparedness has enabled them to be the first mobile service operator to start the SMS service post the lifting of the ban in J&K,” a company spokesman said. 


Confirming the official instructions, Chief General Manager of the official service provider BSNL, R K Koul said the service to over eight lakh subscribers would be restored on Wednesday morning. He said the instructions to revoke order was issued from State Home Department and all the formalities will be completed during Tuesday night. He informed that out of total  8.50 lakh prepaid BSNL subscribers 4.50 lakh subscribers are from Kashmir Valley. 

Bharti Airtel has more than two million pre-paid subscribers. Aircell has 20 lakh pre-paid subscribers. Other cellular companies like Vodafone, Idea and Reliance also have subscribers running into lakhs.



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