Srinagar: Emotional scenes were witnessed at the government-run media centre in the city on Wednesday as a group of Malaysian tourists, currently on a visit to Kashmir, accessed the internet for the first time since reaching here, due to the continued blockade of the services in the valley.
Three tourists from Malaysia, out of a group of eight, dropped by at the media facilitation centre, housed at the Government”s Information Department Complex here, to seek permission for accessing the internet.
They were accompanied to the the media centre by a local tour operator who had heard of the facility.
“I came to know about this facility so I brought them here,” Jeelani Mir, the operator said.
He said the tourists were frantically looking for some place to access the internet.
“They had been in touch with their families, but they wanted to see their faces. They did not know that the internet was banned in the Kashmir Valley,” he said.
After the tourists accessed the internet on their phones, they turned emotional as they saw the faces of their family members, including kids, for the first time since they reached Kashmir on January 11.
“We have never been without internet in our lives. This is the first time that we have been without the facility. It has been a very difficult period for us,” Ida, one of the tourists, said.
Another tourist, Yousinda, thanked the journalists and the department for providing them access to the internet.
“Our phones did not work here, but we contacted our families through the phone provided by the tour operator. However, we wanted to see them and that is why we came here and we are satisfied now thanks to the people who let us in,” she said.
The tourists were supposed to return on Wednesday, but bad weather forced cancellation of all flights.
“We are stuck here as flights were cancelled. So, we wanted to tell our parents that we were here for few more days until we confirm our tickets once again and do not be worried about us,” Ryna, their fellow traveller, said.
Internet services have remained suspended in the Kashmir valley since August 5 after Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s autonomy and split the state into two federaly administered areas.
The government-run Media Facilitation Centre is the sole facility for accessing the internet for the mediapersons in the Kashmir valley. –With inputs from PTI