Gag On Mobile, Internet Services Enter 9th Week In Kashmir

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SRINAGAR – The gag on mobile and internet services of all Cellular companies, including Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), entered ninth weeks on Tuesday in the valley, where people are protesting since August 5 against scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35 A, besides bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories.

The gag on communication, which remained intact for the 58th day on Tuesday in the valley, has badly affected the lives of professionals dependent on internet, students and journalists. Fearing loss of jobs, many professionals, working for different multi-national companies, have already left for other parts of the country.

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 blackout for a month. But, as only a limited number of people have landline connections, majority of the locals remained affected due to the communication blockade in the valley, where STD and ISD boots have reappeared.

Though people allege that with no mechanism in place, they are being charged huge sums of money to make phone calls. “I spoke to my brother for three minutes and I was charged Rs 30, which means Rs 10 per minute, which is very high,” Nisar Ahmad, a resident of Rajbagh, told UNI.

Meanwhile, 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.

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.


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