Srinagar: In Kashmir, prepaid mobile phone service continues to remain barred for the 86th day even as the postpaid voice calling was restored a fortnight back.

There are at least 25 lakh prepaid cellular subscribers who have no information when their service will be restored.
“This is unfair if postpaid mobile service can be restored why can’t the prepaid service be restored”, said Sameer Ahmad, a government employee.

The entire communication network in Kashmir including mobile phone, landlines and the internet service was suspended in Kashmir on August 4 ahead of the scrapping of Article 370. Voice calls on postpaid phones were resumed in Kashmir two months after landlines were opened. But the SMS facility is still not available to the subscribers.

Communication blockade has caused a great deal of inconvenience to the people.
“I am not am not able to get in touch with my brother very often, this was not the case before August 5 when I would be making daily WhatsApp calls to my brother”, said Mohammad Iqbal, whose brother Feroz Ahmad sells Kashmiri handicrafts in Bankok.

The government took some measures like the opening of schools and colleges and withdrawing of travel advisory for tourists on Kashmir to restore normalcy, but the situation has shown little signs of improvement. Many believe resumption prepaid phone and internet will greatly contribute in restoring normalcy.

“I am not able to communicate with my students. I have a prepaid phone connection”, said Ghulam Hassan Wani, a college professor. “I am thinking of switching over to a postpaid connection now.” Lack of prepaid connectivity and internet has come with a price. Business activities have slowed down in Kashmir.

In the absence of internet, contractors are forced to file e-tenders at the Deputy Commissioner’s office.
“This is highly cumbersome and wastes a lot of time”, said Showkat Ahmad, a government contractor.
Prepaid customers are hopeful that like the postpaid and landlines, this service will be restored as well so that their long wait will also come to an end.

Zaffar Iqbal

Zaffar Iqbal is a senior journalist from Jammu and Kashmir. In a career spanning 20 years, he has reported on a wide range of issues ranging from conflict, armed encounters, environment, crime, politics culture and human rights. Zafar has worked as bureau chief (J&K)/ North India for NDTV- (New Delhi Television and Tiranga TV)- leading teams of journalists for producing quality TV news and online video content.

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