India eases mobile phone shutdown in Kashmir

The newspaper ad on Friday's dailies

The newspaper ad on Friday's dailies

The mobile services in Jammu and Kashmir were shut down on August 5 after the Centre announced in New Delhi the scrapping of the special status guaranteed to the state under Article 370 of the constitution.

All post-paid mobile services "irrespective of the telecom service provider will stand restored and be functional from 12 noon on Monday, October 14", Kansal said.

In the third episode of Voices from the Lockdown - a Firstpost podcast that seeks to bring to the fore the ground realities in Kashmir, Ladakh and Jammu under the communications shutdown - we speak to Murtaza Fazily, a journalist from Ladakh, who will help us dissect this difference of opinion between leaders of Leh and Kargil regions in the soon-to-be standalone Union Territory.

The subscribers will have to, however, wait for some more time for the Internet services to resume in the valley, they said.

Mobile connectivity was restored in Jammu in the second week of September but was subsequently withdrawn because of alleged rumour-mongering.

The official said on Saturday that since August 16 there has been a gradual removal of the restrictions and by the first week of September, majority were removed. Since then, almost 8 million population of Kashmir has been forced to live with any access mobile phones or the internet.

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The restoration of mobile phone services will address the demands of all sections of the local society who had been seeking lifting of communication clampdown in Kashmir.

"Barring 8-10 police stations, movement restrictions have been completely removed".

Underscoring that with this move, "tourists will be able to visit the state without being handicapped by the lack of phone connectivity", the government spokesperson added that students can now be in touch with their parents while attending schools, businessmen can be in touch with customers, transporters can contact clients, and contractors can be in touch with staff.

The move comes barely days after the Centre issued an advisory opening the valley for tourists.

J&K administration had a few days ago released leaders like Devender Singh Rana (National Conference), Harshdev Singh (Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party), Raman Bhalla (Congress), among others days after the schedule for Block Development Council (BDC) election was announced.

The Congress, however, has chose to boycott these elections citing the continued detention of political leaders.

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