Communication Gag in Kashmir Completes 8 Weeks


Photo: Abid Bhat / KO

SRINAGAR- People from different walks of life, particularly traders, students, professionals and journalists continue to suffer as gag on mobile and internet service of all cellular companies, including state owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), completed eight weeks on Monday in the Kashmir Valley, where life remained crippled since August 5 against scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35 A.

However, restoration of landline phones in the first week of September in Kashmir valley has brought some relief to the people, who could not contact their dear ones within and outside the valley due to total communication lockdown for more than a month.

With only BSNL landline service operational, the gag on communication has been a blessing in disguise for the state-run telecom operator, which has given thousands of landline and postpaid connections.

Meanwhile, the communication gag has severely affected the work of IT professionals, students, journalists and other sectors dependent on mobile and internet services.

A Courier service provider said that their operations remained suspended for the 57th day on Monday in the valley due to a gag on communication. “Our services entirely depend on communicating with our clients. As mobile and internet services have been suspended, we have no means to communicate with our clients, necessary to deliver the goods to them,” Shabir Ahmad said.

So, Ahmad said that the operations will remain halted till the gag on communication is over.

However, Ahmad said that the outgoing courier service is operational. “Our clients are now regularly coming to our centre early in the morning and handover the goods which they want to be delivered to other parts of the country. We take the goods and then process them accordingly,” he added.

The mobile network of all cellular companies, besides internet remained suspended for the 57th day on Monday in the valley, where life remained crippled due to strike and restrictions against scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35 A and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories.

The delivery system of post offices also remained suspended. Huge number of letters, parcels and other material remained undelivered as most of the post offices remained closed. However, the General Post Office (GPO) was functioning and people were collecting their goods and letters from there after presenting proper identification.

The GPO has also opened a special counter for the delivery of Passports to applicants.

The communication network was suspended across Kashmir valley, including Srinagar, on August 5 as a precautionary measure to prevent rumours after the special status of the state was scrapped. Suspension of the communication — landline, mobile and internet — network evoked sharp reaction, particularly from the families whose relatives were outside the valley.

It was in the last week of August that landlines were restored to subscribers connected with Barzulla and Sonawar telephone exchanges. Landlines phones of subscribers, including all media organizations, from main BSNL telephone exchange were restored only on September 5.

Due to suspension of internet service, journalists working for different media organizations, including News Agencies, were badly hit. However, later administration set up a media facilitation centre at Sonawar in the city, where journalists are filing their stories to their respective media organizations.

Officials said the mobile phones would also be restored in the valley soon. However, they said the communication network was suspended as it was being misused to spread rumours. (Agencies)

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