Thursday, September 29, 2022
Published 3 Years Ago on Wednesday, Nov 06 2019 By Inside Telecom Staff
By AIJAZ HUSSAIN and SHEIKH SAALIQ Associated Press
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — postpaid cellphone services were
restored in India-administered Kashmir on Monday, more than two months after
India’s government downgraded the region’s semi-autonomy and imposed a security
and communications lockdown.
Landline phones were restored in the region last month, but
the ban on more than 2 million prepaid mobile connections and internet services
Authorities fear that insurgents and separatists demanding
independence from Indian rule will use the internet to provoke protests in the
region that could morph into large-scale street demonstrations.
Tensions in Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and
India but claimed by both in its entirety, have escalated since New Delhi’s
surprise decision in early August to downgrade the region’s semi-autonomy.
India followed the move by sending in tens of thousands of extra troops,
detaining thousands of people and blocking cellphone and internet services.
Residents appeared relieved Monday after facing difficulties
during the long communications embargo. But the region continues to simmer with
“It is a relief,” said Mohammad Akram, a trader.
He was, however, quick to add how Kashmiris are expected “to thank the
government for giving them basic amenities.”
Some said that having no lines of communication for the past
two months was akin to living in the Stone Age.
“Thank you, India. You have finally decided to
partially restore our digital rights,” said Sameer Ahmad, a college
student. “When will you restore our political rights?”
Facing international pressure to ease people’s suffering and
restore normal life, Indian authorities announced last week that they would
allow tourists back into the region after ordering them to leave in August
because of security concerns. The government has said that internet facilities
are being opened at tourist spots in the region.
“Whatever India does in Kashmir, it is driven to
consolidate its position,” said Ali Mohammad, a schoolteacher. “They
stopped phones and internet services to stop us from registering protests. Now
they are restoring these services to cater to tourists and declare normalcy in
The authorities have put out newspaper ads aiming to send
across a message of normalcy in the region. A full-page advertisement in
Friday’s Greater Kashmir daily urged people to reopen their shops and send
their children back to school.
Authorities also released three low-ranking politicians in
the region last week. However, prominent Kashmiri politicians, including some
who have historically accepted India’s sovereignty over the disputed
Muslim-majority region, remain detained in their homes or in jails.
Credit: Associated Press
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