A month after a communication blockade was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir following the scrapping of the special status of the state, all telephone exchanges which were out of order will be restored from Thursday, officials said.
“100% of landline exchanges to be operationalised, remaining 19 exchanges being opened tonight,” a tweet by the official handle of Department of Information and Public Relations, Jammu and Kashmir, said on Wednesday night.
District Magistrate of Srinagar, Shahid Choudhary, also tweeted saying that “most telephone exchanges” were to be be made functional across Valley last night. He added that mobile services were being restored “gradually” and were in use in Kupwara.
“Most telephone exchanges to be functional tonight across Valley. Mobiles being restored gradually, already buzzing in Kupwara. Thanks for patience and regrets for the inconvenience,” Choudhary said in his tweet.
Internet and cell phone services remain blocked across Kashmir, while only one private operator in Kupwara has started incoming calls for postpaid customers, reports said.
On August 5, the Narendra Modi government had announced the abrogation of Article 370 – which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir – via Presidential Order and had also announced the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Soon after the announcement of the Article 370 removal, communication lines were snapped across Jammu and Kashmir. All 100 telephone exchanges in Kashmir were shut down as part of the communication blockade.
Restrictions were imposed, tourists and pilgrims were evacuated from the state and several political leaders, including NC leader Omar Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, were detained.
The restrictions, especially the blockade on communication lines, has disrupted normal life in the region and affected essential services.
However, the government has stated that the move to snap communication lines was necessary to prevent any possible violent backlash and terror attacks over its decision to scrap Article 370. The administration has assured that the communication lines would be restored in phases, depending on the situation.
Recently, in an interview with a US magazine in Brussels, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had defended the Modi government’s move to block communication lines as a security measure.
“It wasn’t possible to stop communications between militants without impacting all of Kashmir. How do I cut off communication between the terrorists and their masters on the one hand, but keep the Internet open for other people? I would be delighted to know,” Jaishankar was quoted as saying.