People were seen making phone calls to friends and relatives on the streets of Srinagar as phones started buzzing around 11:45 AM.
People across Jammu and Kashmir heaved a deep sigh of relief after postpaid mobile services were fully restored in the region on Monday. After remaining shut in Kashmir for over 70 days following the abrogation of article 370 in August, the authorities have resumed the postpaid mobile connections in 10 districts of Kashmir valley.
People were seen making phone calls to friends and relatives on the streets of Srinagar as phones started buzzing around 11:45 AM. There are around 60 lakh mobile connections in the valley and among them 40 lakh are postpaid.
“We are happy and thankful to the government that they’ve reopened postpaid connection but now we also need internet as our lives are dependent on it,” said Saqib Ahmad, who works with a Delhi based company.
Landline phones were completely resumed in September after people made an appeal to the government. In Jammu, phones were resumed in only a few weeks after remaining suspended to maintain law and order situation.
“I invite you to my house tomorrow to witness how I send my kids to school now. They have been at home since last 70 days,” said Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Rajbagh, while sitting with his son and wife.
His wife, Farhat, said that she was emotional when she made a first phone call to her mother living in a Kupwara village, some 120 kilometres from Srinagar city. “I had tears in my eyes when I spoke to her. She was equally emotional. It was our first conversation after August 5,” Farhat said.
However, the majority of the people also asked the authorities to resume the internet service to help students and businessmen who are dependent on the service.
Sources said that the phone service was resumed after taking a comprehensive look of the overall security situation in the valley. Authorities had cited inputs of large scale terror attacks in the valley to suspend the calling service; however, the government spokesman said that they are still receiving credible inputs of Pakistan based terror groups trying to carry out attacks in Kashmir.
Although the landline network was restored in phases, restrictions remained on the usage of mobile devices in various parts of the Valley. Apart from restoring telecommunication services, restrictions on movement have been removed in 99 per cent of the areas in Jammu and Kashmir.
The decision to restore mobile phone services comes days after Governor Satya Pal Malik announced the withdrawal of security advisory for tourists from October 10.
The administration had also said that tourists desirous of visiting the region will be provided with the necessary assistance and logistic support.
As normalcy started returning, postpaid mobile phone services were resumed in five districts - Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Rajouri and Poonch - of the Jammu region on August 29.
The central government had abrogated Article 370 and also bifurcated the former state into Union Territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The new UTs will come into being on October 31.
(With ANI inputs)