With Christmas and New Year round the corner, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday lifted a six-month ban on short message service (SMS) on post-paid mobile connections, bringing cheer to more than three million mobile subscribers in the state.
The decision follows an improvement in the law and order situation, specially in the Valley, which witnessed a spate of clashes between protesters and security forces in summer.
"The state government has lifted the ban on SMS on all post-paid connections, but it will remain on pre-paid mobile connections," home secretary BR Sharma said.
"We are closely monitoring the situation and the decision to lift SMS ban on pre-paid connections may be taken soon."
Bulk messages, usually sent from computers, also remain banned.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by chief minister Omar Abdullah, which was attended by senior police and intelligence officials.
Abdullah said an official statement announcing the lifting of the ban would be circulated through the department of information.
The ban was imposed on June 29 following widespread violence that was triggered by the death of a teenager in police action on June 11.
Separatists and anti-social elements were allegedly using text messages to mobilise people for violent protests. The ban also aimed at restricting bulk communication between separatists and militant outfits.
A total of 117 people died in clashes with security forces since then. Kashmiris, especially the youth, had showed great resentment against the ban.
The Centre had imposed a ban on SMS in the state on April 16. It was revoked within a few hours.