Kashmir lockdown: Pre-paid mobile services barred for 85th day

Srinagar, Oct 28 (IANS) A fortnight after post-paid voice calls were restored in Kashmir, there is still no sign of the resumption of pre-paid mobile connections, as normal life remained affected in the Valley for the 85th consecutive day on Monday.

There are at least 25 lakh pre-paid cell phone users in Kashmir.

“This is discriminatory, if there is no problem with the restoration of post-paid mobile services, how does pre-paid service pose a security threat?” asked Asiya Firdous, a school teacher.

The Centre imposed a communication blockade in the Valley, a day before Article 370 was scrapped on August 5.

Post-paid cell phones without SMS facility were activated two months after landlines were opened.

Many people believe that the resumption of pre-paid phone and Internet services will facilitate business activity and help in restoring normalcy.

“I am not able to contact my workers because I have a pre-paid phone connection,” said Abdul Rahim, a contractor. “I am thinking of taking a post-paid connection now”

“Contractors like me have to go to the deputy commissioner’s office for filing our tenders on line,” he said.

However, pre-paid customers are hopeful that their long wait will come to an end soon.

The communication blockade has also heightened the feeling of being under siege in Kashmir after August 5.

Measures by the government like opening of schools and colleges and withdrawal of the travel advisory issued before the removal of Article 370 to woo tourists back to Kashmir have not had the desired effect.

People believe that complete lifting of restrictions on mobile communications and Internet facilities will go a long way in achieving a semblance of normalcy in the Valley.

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