Jammu and Kashmir | When counting of the dead came to a halt

Internet services hit for 58 days now

October 03, 2019 02:03 am | Updated 02:03 am IST - Srinagar

Representational image

Representational image

Mubeena Akhtar, 22, a resident of Srinagar’s Jogi Lankar area, and the eldest of three siblings, is battling to sustain her family after her father, a government employee, passed away in the last week of July.

Two months on, Ms. Akhtar is unable to obtain a death certificate necessary for claiming the monthly pension benefits.

For the first time in the last three decades, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has stopped counting the dead and newborns in the city due to the Internet shutdown, enforced after the August 5 decision to revoke J&K’s special status.

The official record showed no deaths or births registered between August 5 and August 26. However, in the month of September, the department only managed to issue 467 temporary ‘under-process’ certificates to the needy.

“We have been pleading with the BSNL to restore Internet on a humanitarian basis. Finally, the government, this Monday, managed to activate a private lease line for Internet service. Fourteen formal certificates have been issued on Tuesday,” SMC health officer Dr. Qazi Javaid told The Hindu .

Prior to August 5, the SMC would issue, on an average, 1,500 death and birth certificates per month. These certificates are a must for school admissions, banks account closures and pension cases. The SMC contacted local banks, school authorities and other departments to entertain all under-process certificates for the time being, Dr. Javaid said.

“We issued temporary certificates since it’s admission time in schools. We ensured that students are not deprived of the right to education,” he said.

In the case of a destitute from Srinagar’s Ganai Doori area, Dr. Javaid said, the SMC delivered the death certificate at their doorstep “to avoid suffering on account of pension money”. “The non-availability of Internet dealt a blow to our system. We are back on track from this week,” he added.

The Valley is facing Internet shutdown for 58 days now. The SMC officials said they have a huge task now. “We have to re-verify all under-process certificates to ensure no fudging has happened. We fear in many cases parents had resorted to mischief and their wards are going to suffer in school admissions once the re-verification process begins.”

Meanwhile, a government spokesman said the Internet service had been halted to stop militants from launching any attacks and to defy any bid to stoke civilian unrest. He, however, did not commit on any timeline on restoration of the service.

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