People with postpaid mobile connections in Jammu and Kashmir will finally be able to make calls starting Monday as the communications blackout imposed before the government revoked the state’s decades-old special privileges entered its 69th day.
“Mobile phone connections, to be specific, all postpaid mobile phone connections, irrespective of service provider, will resume from Monday – October 14th at noon. This will happen across the state, in all 10 districts of Kashmir,” Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal said at a news briefing.
Internet connectivity, however, will remain suspended for now.
“The restrictions were imposed so that externally aided terrorism does not lead to a loss of lives. These measures ensured no unnecessary loss of life. This is remarkable given what happened in 2008, 2010, and 2016,” Mr Kansal said. He also said that political leaders who have been detained will be gradually released, adding it was a “dynamic process”.
The central government had ended Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5 and split it into two union territories, saying the move would help ensure that people of the state get the same constitutional benefits as the rest of the country and spur development.
To prevent any backlash, the centre also imposed massive security restrictions and took measures that included arresting politicians, evacuating tourists, posting extra troops and blocking phone and internet lines.
Some of those curbs have been slowly relaxed, but mobile and internet communications in the Kashmir valley were largely still blocked. The advisory preventing tourists from visiting the state was lifted on Thursday.
Last month, the government restored landline connections, however, few of these telephones serviced by government-run operator BSNL are used at homes. The restrictions had left local residents frustrated and disrupted essential services and businesses.
Several nations, including the US, expressed concern over the curbs. In response to question by a magazine in Belgium last month, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had said, “It wasn’t possible to stop communications between militants without impacting all of Kashmir. How do I cut off communication between the terrorists and their masters on the one hand, but keep the Internet open for other people? I would be delighted to know.”
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