15 October 2019
Srinagar: The resumption of voice calls in Kashmir after two months has ended young Afroza's frequent visits to her neighbour's house. She can now speak to her Bengaluru-based fiance at will.
Afroza's marriage, which was scheduled for the last week of August, was cancelled due to the lockdown in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.
Her wedding will now take place November. She hopes all restrictions will be lifted and internet will also be back by then.
"I am no longer dependent on my neighbour's landline to talk my fiance. It's like coming back to the real world," she said.
Cell phones and internet remained suspended in Kashmir for 70 days. The resumption of post-paid cellphones after so long has also cheered the students.
"Students were suffering the most due to communication blockade," said Sabiya Mir, a college student. In Kashmir, 66 lakh cellphones are registered with different services providers. Around 26 lakh pre-paid cell phones are still shut.
"The government should lift all the restrictions on communication to make life easier for the people," said Raiq Ahmed. "It is not a favour bestowed on us, this is our right that was snatched."
Scores of people thronged BSNL offices in Srinagar to clear their bills. Some called their contacts in Jammu to pay their bills online.
"My phone is not working, I have an outstanding of Rs 1,200," said Muhammad Ayub, an engineer." I went to the telecom office, but there is a huge rush. So I asked a friend in Jammu clear my outstanding."
The government has also ordered opening of schools and colleges, and has withdrawn the travel advisory to bring back tourists to Kashmir and restore a sense of normalcy. But the situation has shown little signs of improvement.
Many people believe that resumption of prepaid phone and internet will help bring back normalcy in Kashmir, which has been living under siege since August.