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Valley’s postpaid mobiles to come alive on Mon

Valley’s postpaid mobiles to come alive on Mon

NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: On Monday, after 70 days of a communication lock down following annulment of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Kashmir will move closer to restoration of normal life with the state government announcing resumption of postpaid mobile services in all 10 districts of the Valley.
While voice calls and SMS will be enabled, mobile internet will remain barred for now. The move is set to benefit those of around 40 lakh postpaid mobile subscribers in J&K who are in the Valley. Around 20 lakh pre-paid connections – which work only in the state and lack roaming facility – remain non-functional. In normal course, prepaid SIM cards bought outside J&K too do not function in J&K.
The lifting of the ban on mobile communication in the Valley comes days after the J&K government withdrew its advisory asking tourists to leave the state as a precautionary measure and is part of calibrated steps to ease restrictions after special status was abrogated and a decision was taken to create two UTs of J&K and Ladakh.
So far, the mobile ban was intended to prevent Pakistan-based and aided elements and terror organisations to organise violent protests and incite violence through provocative, and in many cases, manipulated videos. The continued ban on internet will mean use of WhatsApp, often a tool for mobilisation, will not be functional.
Sources indicated the next step in efforts to end curbs imposed in J&K after Article 370 was turned into a dead letter, shall be phased release of detained political leaders in coming days. While some middle-level leaders were freed earlier this week, a call is awaited on more prominent figures.
Asked about the timing for lifting the mobile ban in Kashmir Valley, a senior intelligence functionary said: “The main focus of militants and Pakistan was to display a total shutdown when the UN General Assembly session was held in September. After Pakistan’s efforts to internationalise the issue failed, people are now willing and waiting to open up shops/establishments and resume normal life. So it was a good time to take the initiative”.
J&K principal secretary Rohit Kansal told a news conference in Srinagar that the initiative will help tourists visit the state without being handicapped by the lack of phone connectivity. “Students can be in touch with parents while attending schools, businessmen can be in touch with customers, transporters can contact clients, and contractors can be in touch with staff,” he stated.
Sources in central security establishment said J&K police and other forces are gearing up to tackle any eventuality on account of restoration of mobile communication, including heightened terrorist activity and attempts by Pakistan-backed separatists to mobilise locals for violent protests. Technical intelligence and pre-emptive counter-terror operations will be stepped up.
TimesofIndia

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