Srinagar, Oct 14: Just when clock struck 12 noon, Kashmir literally came to a standstill. Mobile phones start buzzing from every direction and people irrespective of their age and gender started exchanging greetings to their loved ones.
Welcome to Kashmir post restoration of post-paid phones. Some people cried, some grinned and others watched the extraordinary moment.
Sample this: Junaid Ahmad Bhat, 32, could not hide his emotion when his phone started buzzing. Bhat, who was riding a bike, stopped instantly to say, Hello…
Not just Bhat, scores of people in their cars and on bikes glued to their cell phones to check whether the service has been restored.
“We were feeling suffocated due to the blockade of communication. Everyone has been waiting for the moment when the service will be resumed. Mobile phones have become an essential part of our lives and government should have realised this months before,” he said.
It was after 71 days that mobile phones started ringing in Kashmir, which were blocked on August 5 when government abrogated article 370. The government snapped telecommunication services in Kashmir, fearing rumour mongering and use of the service by militants.
People till now had an access to landline telephone system, which were restored in phased manner from August 17 to September 4. Mobile internet, lease lines and broadband are still blocked in the valley.
With the resumption of mobile phones, nearly 40 lakh post-paid subscribers in Kashmir got a new lease of life. Post paid subscribers form the major subscriber base for the telecommunication companies in Kashmir. There are nearly 30 lakh prepaid subscribers in the valley.
The service was restored two days after government spokesperson RohitKansal said the decision has been taken after authorities reviewed situation in the valley.
“Having reviewed the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, a decision has been taken to restore post-paid mobile phone facilities in all the remaining areas of Jammu and Kashmir. This will cover all 10 districts of Kashmir province,” he then said.
Last week, the government had also revoked the advisory for tourists.
“I couldn’t talk to my son regularly who is currently based in Saudi Arabia. Having mobile phone services makes it easier to remain connected with the relatives,” said Salma Nabi, a 55 year old resident of Khanyar.
Nazir Ahmad, a travel agent, urged government to restore pre-paid and broadband services to avoid business losses.
At BSNL office in Srinagar’s exchange road, people in hundreds were seen queuing up at the counters to clear outstanding dues.
“We had not paid our bills as mobile services were suspended. Now we have come to pay our bills,” said Sajad Ahmad, one of the subscribers waiting for his turn to pay the bill at BSNL counter.
The day also witnessed subscribers facing network issues with calls getting dropped or disconnected.
The subscribers hoped that the issues will be resolved in the coming days.