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Restored mobile lines recharge residents of Kashmir

A Jammu and Kashmir Police Special Operation Group member checks a mobile phone in Srinagar. File photo

A Jammu and Kashmir Police Special Operation Group member checks a mobile phone in Srinagar. File photo   | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

Hundreds of Kashmiris were able to reconnect with relatives living outside the State on Monday, as mobile services were restored for 40 lakh postpaid numbers. The moves come after 72 days of communication blackout.

Khursheed Joo, a carpenter by profession, from Srinagar's Baghwanpora, walking several kilometres to the Deputy Commissioner's office to get in touch with his son working in Qatar, had become routine. However, on Monday, Mr. Joo’s wife Mukhta Begum was able to talk to her son after more than two months. 

“It was a painful period. I am ageing. My son would call me twice a day. It was my lifeline, and then it suddenly stopped (on August 4). There were days I cried. I felt I will die and my son may not come to know about it. Who would have performed my last rites?” said Ms Mukhta, in her 70s.

Khaliq Rashid, 62, a resident of the old city, had postponed his heart surgery due to the lack of communications in the Valley. “We postponed the surgery because it would have been impossible to get in touch with the family back home in case of any eventuality or help,” his relatives said.

For the student community, which is due to sit for annual examinations later this month in the Valley, the move has came as a major relief. “We can get in touch with friends and share notes,” said Ryan Ahmad, a Class 10 student.

Dr. S. Imran (name changed) works as a nephrologist at the government-run Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital in Srinagar. 

“Our patients suffered without mobile phones. I have seen patients, who required dialysis, suffering and their conditions deteriorating. It was difficult to coordinate procedures. I hope Internet services too will be restored. Such services save lives and are not a luxury in the current situation,” said the doctor.

With restoration of lines, a new set of complaints surfaces as users complained that while some telecom providers were withdrawing services, some were charging for the past two months also.

However, around 30 lakh prepaid phones remain blocked for “security situation”.

In first week of September, around 46,000 landlines were restored. 

Kashmir came under a communication blackout after the Centre revoked the special status of the State on August 5.

Against terrorism

Governor Satya Pal Malik on Monday defended the decision to withdraw communication services in the State.

“People used to make noise there is no telephone. We stopped services because terrorists were using it for their activities, mobilisation and indoctrination. Life of a civilian was more important to us. People were living without telephones earlier also,” said Mr. Malik.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 2:33:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/postpaid-mobile-phone-services-in-kashmir-restored/article29679705.ece

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