Communication services partially restored in Kashmir: Indian govt

World Sunday 18/August/2019 15:41 PM
By: Times News Service
Communication services partially restored in Kashmir: Indian govt

Srinagar: Close to two-weeks after the government disconnected all communication channels in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, landline telephone services are being restored to parts of the state, the Indian government has revealed.

Seventeen out of 100 phone exchanges in the Kashmir Valley are operational, officials say. Internet and mobile phone services still remain suspended.

Most of the area has been in lockdown since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government decided to strip the region of its special status earlier this month.

Hundreds of people, including local politicians, remain in detention or under house arrest. Even the local media is not getting unfettered access to the Indian state which is under heavy curfew.

The Indian government says that restrictions are being lifted from 35 police stations across the Kashmir Valley, while schools are due to reopen from Monday, along with government offices.

Most of the telephone exchanges in the valley should be functional by Sunday evening, officials said.

In Jammu, landlines services are functioning normally, and mobile services have also been restored in five districts there, officials added.

Telephone and internet links had been cut and curfew-like restrictions that ban people from assembling in crowds imposed just before the Central government decided to amend Article 370 of its constitution, which guaranteed the controversial territory its autonomy, on 5 August.

The communications blackout in the region has made reporting from India-administered Kashmir difficult.

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council discussed Kashmir for the first time in about five decades.

At the meeting, which was held behind closed doors in New York at the request of Pakistan and China, Indian officials criticised international interference in what it says are its internal affairs.

"We don't need international busybodies to try to tell us how to run our lives. We are a billion-plus people," India's envoy Syed Akbaruddin said.

Pakistan's ambassador welcomed the holding of the meeting as evidence that the region's dispute was "internationally recognised".