India eases mobile phone shutdown in Kashmir

India eases mobile phone shutdown in Kashmir

The mobile services in Jammu and Kashmir were shut down on August 5 after the Centre announced in New Delhi the scrapping of the special status guaranteed to the state under Article 370 of the constitution.

Explaining the reasons behind the restrictions imposed in the light of the important constitutional changes that were made in relation to Jammu & Kashmir in August 2019, he said that a number of restrictions were imposed from 4 August 2019 in order to prevent externally aided terrorists from disturbing peace and inflicting casualties on innocent citizens.

Kansal said there was a gradual lifting of restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir since August 16 and most curbs were lifted by the first week of September. "Barring restrictions in 8-10 areas, others have been completely removed".

This podcast contains recorded snippets of a phone conversation over landline - the only form of communication available in Kashmir to the outside world. "Over 99% of the area of Jammu and Kashmir has no restrictions on movement", he said from a prepared statement.

"Tourists will be able to visit the state without being handicapped by the lack of phone connectivity". Internet facilities are being opened at tourist spots to assist those who would want to access it, he added. "Credible inputs continue to be received on the likelihood of large-scale terrorist attacks sponsored by forces inimical to the nation and from outside its borders", Kansal said.

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The announcement regarding the postpaid mobile services will be made by the state administration on Saturday, they said. "It is remarkable given the history of events in 2008, 2010 and 2016", he said, citing previous incidents of unrest in the Valley where over 300 civilians have been killed during protests.

He said the Government is urging the businessmen, industrialists, traders, transporters, shopkeepers, hoteliers and contractors not to be frightened by militant threats and separatists and go about their normal activities.

Kansal said all those detained would be released gradually after review. "If there have been arrests, there have been releases as well". However, prominent Kashmiri politicians, including some who have historically accepted India's sovereignty over the disputed Muslim-majority region, remain detained in their own homes or in jails. A delegation of the National Conference was recently allowed to meet former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah.

Few vendors set up stalls on the TRC Chowk-Lal Chowk road here. Students continued to stay away from schools and colleges, they said. While the situation in the Kashmir Valley continues to be grim, neighbouring Ladakh is in the middle of a crisis of its own.

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