Post paid mobile services on BSNL network were restored in Kashmir Valley around 12 pm on Monday, news agency PTI reported. The move comes 69 days after mobile phone services were suspended in the valley after the Centre’s August 5 move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status.
The ban on prepaid mobile connections and internet services will continue, although the states’ principal secretary of planning, monitoring and development, Rohit Kansal, had said on Saturday that “internet facilities are being opened” at tourist spots.
According to officials, there are around seven million mobile phone users, and nearly four million of them have post-paid connections.
Security forces have said they are taking all precautionary measures ahead of the restoration of the post-paid phone service.
News agency Asian News International (ANI) quoted unnamed security sources as saying that they will strictly monitor hate mongers spreading rumours with the local police keeping an eye on fake news and messages.
Extra forces will also be deployed at strategic locations to avoid any unlawful gathering, they said.
A lockdown and communication blackout was imposed in Kashmir while hundreds of political workers and leaders, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti, were detained to prevent protests against the change to J-K’s constitutional status and reorganisation.
Kansal had said on Saturday that the decision to restore the post-paid mobile services in all the 10 districts of Kashmir was taken after reviewing the situation.
Most of the restrictions have since been eased and landline phone services were restored in August. Mobile phone services were earlier restored in 12 districts of Jammu and Ladakh in August and later in Kashmir’s Kupwara.
The announcement of the restoration of post-paid mobile phones in Kashmir comes days after a group of US lawmakers on October 7 urged India to lift the restrictions, saying the communication blackout was “having a devastating impact on the lives and welfare” of Kashmiris.
The lawmakers said it is time for India to lift these restrictions and afford “Kashmiris the same rights and privileges as any other Indian citizen”.
The move to restore post-paid mobile services is among a series of measures announced as part of efforts to restore normalcy in Kashmir, where a shutdown has continued despite an end to most restrictions.
Kansal had also said that barring areas under the jurisdiction of eight to 10 police stations, restrictions on the movement of people has now been completely revoked.
However, shops have largely remained shut and public transport off the roads even as the restrictions have been eased.