Mobile services partially restored in Kashmir, curfew continues for 43rd day

  • Ashiq Hussain, Hindustan Times, Srinagar, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Aug 20, 2016 13:53 IST
Paramilitary soldier stands guard during curfew in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, August 17 2016. Mobile phone services in Kashmir valley were partially restored on August 20, 2016 though restrictions and curfew continued in many areas. (Waseem Andrabi / HT Photo )

 Mobile phone services were partially restored in Kashmir Valley on Saturday even as life remained suspended for the 43rd day due to curfew and shutdown.

Common people, reeling under an intense communication blockade, were able to make calls to their near and dear ones after authorities lifted the restrictions on the operation of post-paid mobile services.

The services were suspended on August 13, ahead of the Pakistan’s Independence Day celebrations.

The incoming call services of pre-paid mobiles, which form the bulk of customers in the Valley, were also restored. However, it was not clear when pre-paid customers be also be able to make calls.

Internet access for mobile phones is still suspended in the Valley. The authorities have only allowed BSNL post-paid mobile and landline services to function unhindered while blocking the rest, on and off, after violence erupted across Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8.

Officials say that mobile and internet services trigger the spread of rumors and escalate protests. But activists insist that lack of communication services actually triggers the rumour mongering.

So far, 66 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and thousands injured in clashes between security forces and protesters during the unrest.

Residents claim that for the past four days, the police and CRPF have rigorously enforced a stringent curfew to foil the 72-hour march to the UN office called by separatists on August 16 to protest the spate of killings in Kashmir.

The last four days saw an intense security crackdown on the movement of people even during the nights which was not the practice since the unrest began last month. The crackdown ensured that the march did not materialise.

The separatists have been continuously issuing protest calendars and they extended the latest protest programme to August 25.

Separatists have also asked people to write to all MLAs, MLCs and ministers of “pro-Indian” political parties and demand their resignation from the government and party positions.

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