As postpaid mobile phones started ringing again in Kashmir on Monday after a gap of 70-days, joyous people in the Valley started calling their near-and-dear ones, with whom they had no contact for the past over two months.
As the clock stuck 12 noon, 40-lakh postpaid mobile phones dead for the last 70 days started ringing much to the delight of millions of people.
Unprecedented restrictions were imposed across Kashmir on August 5 when Centre scrapped Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two Union Territories (UTs). Internet and mobile phone services on both post and prepaid phones were snapped on all networks on the same day.
The communication blockade put people of Kashmir to a lot of hardships. “When my phone rang at 12 noon, I was in tears as I couldn’t understand whether I am happy or sad. In the 21st century and in the digital age, a lifeline in today’s world which is mobile phone and internet was snapped from the whole population of Kashmir,” Farhana Manzoor, a researcher told DH.
Asked whom she made the first call after the mobile service was restored, she said, “For some time I could not decide what to do and whom to call. As if I was in shock. Finally, I called my sister who is outside the state and then afterwards, there was no looking back. I made atleast 50 calls in the day to my relatives and friends with whom I had lost all contact.”
Arshid Bhat, a government employee said that denying mobile and internet services to people in today’s world is like denying water to fish. “Only people of Kashmir know what it means to live without phone and internet services when everything is dependent on it. Hundreds of people lost their jobs, patients suffered in hospitals, students and researchers had to abandon their work and children lost contact with their parents and vice-versa due to the communication gag,” he said.
Bhat demanded that now the government must restore prepaid mobile and internet services without any further delay. “The government claims that mobile and internet is being used by the militants. It is a bizarre logic as seven million people are being punished for misdeeds of 200 odd militants,” he added.
Ruqiya Bano, a housewife echoed Bhat’s views saying the government time and again snaps communication facilities in Kashmir giving security reasons. “If militants are using the mobiles and internet, the government must block those numbers. My son is studying in an engineering college in Punjab and for first one month after August 5, we had no information about him. Why are common people being made scapegoats,” she asked.