Srinagar: Since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, the over 30 lakh subscriber base Reliance Jio has in J&K has paid around Rs 400 crore in bills and recharges without actually getting full services.
A rough estimate of around 33.56 lakh Jio subscribers in J&K (as per January 2019 TRAI data) shows each subscriber shelling at least Rs 150 a month.
The Kashmir Monitor spoke to over a dozen shopkeepers running recharge kiosks in Srinagar and Anantnag districts.
All of them said that majority of the subscribers went for 199 and 129 packs with the former offering 1.5 gigabytes of 4G data for 28 days with unlimited calling, while the latter offers 2 gigabytes of 4G data for 28 days with unlimited calling.
Estimates show that on an average, each of the subscribers paid Rs 150 every 28 days. It amounts to a whopping Rs 50,34,49,950 (Rs 50.34 crore) per month.
Since August 2019 when 4G was suspended in the erstwhile state, the subscribers have thus paid a staggering Rs 4027599600 (402.75 crore) till March 2020.
The amount was paid without the users actually getting the prime service they initially subscribed for: high speed internet.
The authorities have repeatedly extended the ban on 4G mobile internet in J&K even as Kashmir, like the rest of the world, is grappling with coronavirus pandemic.
The J&K administration on April 3 extended the ban on high-speed internet till April 15 citing the new domicile law as one of the reasons, in spite of the rights groups and civil society members demanding its restoration in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.
There are at least two petitions in Supreme Court right now questioning the ban and seeking restoration of the service.
In one of it, the apex court on Thursday asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration to file their responses to the plea.
The petition, filed by the Foundation for Media Professionals, said suspending high-speed internet was violative of a citizen’s right to equality, freedom of speech and right to life, guaranteed in the Constitution.
Another PIL has been moved in by Private Schools Association, Jammu & Kashmir (PSAJK) contending that the lack of 4G connectivity for internet is infringing the fundamental right to education.