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Phones Ringggg…

Firdous Hassan

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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. 


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Lead Stories

Post abrogation of Art 370: Multinationals, manufacturing giants make beeline to set up units in UT

J&K receives `Expression of Interest’ worth Rs 3000 Cr

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Nov 20: Dalmia Bharat Group, Singapore Electric vehicles and Dubai-based Lulu Internationals are among over 40 companies, which have shown interest in investing in Jammu and Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370.  

Jammu and Kashmir, which was a no-go- zone for outside investors, has been opened for all national and international business players after the scrapping of special status on August 5.

A source told The Kashmir Monitor that more than 40 companies have submitted their ‘Expression of Interest’ to invest in 10 different sectors in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Hospitality, Tourism, Education, Information Technology, Horticulture, Agriculture, Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSME) and manufacturing are some of the sectors which companies have zeroed in on.

“Prominent among these companies include Escott Infrastructure, Dalmia Bharat Group, Shree Cements, Jackson Group, Indian School of Business, Singapore Electric Vehicles and Lulu Group. They have submitted the proposals for setting up their units in Jammu and Kashmir,” the source said.

With an annual turnover of Rs 70, 000 crore, Dalmia Bharat Group is a renowned business house in India, which deals with cement, sugar, thermal power and other businesses.

Similarly, Kolkata-based Shree Cement, which has annual turnover of Rs 58.50 billion, has shown interest in setting up its unit in Jammu and Kashmir.

Singapore based Singapore Electric Vehicles Pvt Ltd, a commercial electric fleet company, has desired to invest in the manufacturing sector.

Founded in 2001, Indian School of Business, a private business college, has expressed readiness to invest in the education sector by setting up its campuses in the union territory.

Helmet manufacturing giant ‘Steelbird’ has also offered to set up a plant in Jammu and Kashmir. Hospitality player ‘Lemon Tree’ has also proposed two new properties with 35-40 beds each in Gulmarg and Sonmarg areas.

An official privy to the development said government has received 60 ‘Expression of Interests’ so far, which is worth approximately Rs 3000 crore.

“Some companies have submitted their Expression of Interests twice. Some wants to build tourism infrastructure and others want to set up industries,” he said.

Managing Director SIDCO, Ravinder Kumar told The Kashmir Monitor that a committee has been constituted to review the ‘Expression of Interest’ by these companies. “We are going to review the Expression of Interests in 10 to 12 days,” he said.

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MLA hostel or ghost house, ask relatives of caged leaders

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Nov 20:  Cries of ‘ghost house’ resonated as relatives met caged politicians at the new detention center of MLA hostel on Wednesday.

On Sunday at least 34 political prisoners were shifted from Centaur hotel to MLA hostel, which has been designated as sub-jail.

Government sources said the move was necessitated due to cold weather in Kashmir and an exorbitant bill of Rs 3 crore generated in three months for the detained leaders at the Centaur hotel.

 

Those shifted include Sajad Lone of People’s Conference, Ali Mohammad Sagar of National Conference, Naeem Akhtar of PDP and former IAS officer turned politician Shah Faesal.

“MLA hostel has been turned into ghost-house. There is complete darkness with no facilities,” said AaliyaBano, sister of Muzaffar Shah of Awami National Conference.

ShehriyarKhanum, daughter of former minister and PDP leader Naeem Akhtar, said this is a defunct building which lacks basic facilities. “There should be a hygienic place for these leaders. Toilets are in bad shape. There are no heating arrangements and no proper lighting system,” she said

Khanum accused female staff at MLA hostel of “humiliating” relatives of political prisoners in the name of frisking. “We don’t know what protocol they are following,” she said.

Tanveer Veeri, brother of NC leader and former MLC Bashir Veeri, said there are no proper heating or lighting arrangements at MLA hostel.

“There is neither heating blower nor gas heater available. It is better if they are shifted to MLA hostel, Jammu or Central jail,” he said.

Relatives also complained about unhealthy food being served to detainees.

“The food being served is not healthy. The rooms are not good. There is no proper matting,” said Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmad, father of detained Sheikh Imran, deputy Mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation.

Son of detained PDP leader Sartaj Madni said families of political leaders were being “unnecessarily harassed”. “Our vehicles are not being allowed to go inside. We are carrying certain items which these leaders need. How will we carry items like matting and heating appliances?” he asked. 

On last Thursday, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was shifted from Cheshma Shahi hut to a government facility on Maulana Azad Road. While Farooq Abdullah, who was slapped with Public Safety Act, has been detained at his home, his son Omar Abdullah is lodged at Hari Niwas Palace, which has been designated as sub jail.

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Militants still trying to interfere with normal life in Kashmir: DGP

Agencies

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Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh has said that despite much pressure from militant outfits.

He said the number of youths joining militant outfits is much lesser this year as compared to previous years. The DGP further said, militants were still trying to interfere with normal life in the Kashmir valley but asserted that police was making all efforts to thwart their attempts.  Dilbagh Singh was speaking during his visit to Kulgam district in South Kashmir yesterday. 

Dilbag Singh said police and security forces are working to give people a secure environment. He said the situation is much better now and normalcy fast returning in the Valley. 

 

He said that although graph of militant activities has come down in the recent past yet for providing peaceful environment to the people of J&K, there is still need to continue the fight against militancy with enhanced vigour to end it for all time to come in Jammu and Kashmir adding that final assault should be strategically planned and effective.

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