Gag on communication enters 66th day in Kashmir
Jammu & Kashmir

Gag on communication enters 66th day in Kashmir

Agency News

Srinagar, Oct 9 : Gag on communication continued since August 5, badly affecting students, professionals and traders in Kashmir valley, where life remained crippled due to strike against scrapping of Article 370, besides bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories.

Landlines went dead while mobile and internet service of all Cellular companies were suspended in the valley on the night of August 4 as a precautionary measure. However, landlines were restored in the valley after remaining suspended for over a month.

The government also issued security advisory on August 5, directing tourists, Amarnath pilgrims and lakhs of outside workers, to leave the valley. Even though the Governor administration lifted ban on tourists visiting Kashmir valley from Thursday, those connected with the tourism industry said they still feel handicapped in the absence of mobile and internet network.

'Lifting of travel advisory was just a half hearted decision by the government as without the basic facilities, particularly communication network, nothing will change on the ground to attract tourists,' said several members of tour and travel agencies. Let government lift gag on communication, particularly mobile phones and internet service, before expecting any tourism revival in the valley, where shops and business establishments are shut and transport off the roads, they said.

'How can we expect any tourist to visit Kashmir when situation is still very uncertain and they (tourist) cannot remain in contact with their families back home during their visit here,' the traders connected with the tourism industry said.

There is also no way for tourists to contact local tour and travel agencies for finalising their tour programme in the valley, they said, adding for visiting any tourist spot, you need a relaxed atmosphere which is not available at present.

Professionals were the worst hit due to continued ban on internet and mobile phone service in the valley. Over 100 professionals have shifted to winter capital, Jammu and other parts of the country, including Delhi, to continue to work for their companies. 'I had to shift along with my two daughters and wife to Jammu to work since internet remains suspended in the valley,” Irfan Saleem, a professional working for a foreign medical agency said.

He said majority professionals, including medical transcriptionist, had to shift outside the valley to save their jobs. Students appearing in professional examinations said they lost two months study since tuition and coaching centres are closed since August 5. 'Students used to study the material available on the internet for preparing medical and engineering examinations,' said Dawood, a student appearing in NEET.

However, he said as the internet remained suspended they were not able to prepare for the examinations. Meanwhile, since students continue to stay from educational institutions, management of private schools provided video tutorials and study material to their respective students on pen drives. Earlier, students used to get their class work and other work on their e-mails.

Journalists working for different local, national and international media organisations too had to taste the ban on communication. Internet service of all media organisations, including newspapers and news agencies, remained suspended since August 5. Mobile phones of all journalists also remained voiceless. However, landlines are now working after remaining suspended for over a month.

The State Information Department (SID) finally opened a 'Facilitation Centre' for journalists in Sonawar area of the city from where they file stories to their respective media organisations. However, for any information from far-flung and remote areas, journalists are dependent on government briefing only. Scores of media persons last week took out a protest rally in the summer capital, Srinagar, demanding restoration of their internet and mobile phones.

Though landlines are now working in the valley, people, mostly students and traders, outside the valley are informing their families about their well-being through private television channels, who are not charging them anything. (UNI)