With ban on Internet in Valley, plastic money is unusable too

Internet services in the Valley have been suspended since July 8, when Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed and protests began.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: November 14, 2016 5:38 am
kashmir, kashmir unrest, kashmir curfew, friday prayers, kashmir prayers, kashmir friday prayers, india news, indian express In Srinagar’s business hub of Lal Chowk and Residency Road, only one departmental store was accepting debit and credit cards. Only one in more than 100 petrol pumps in the Valley had access to broadband Internet.

As shops opened on Saturday evening, former chief minister Farooq Abdullah arrived in Lal Chowk. Left without cash after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, Abdullah shopped on credit. “I did not have cash, so I told the shopkeepers I will pay later,” Abdullah said.

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The National Conference leader was able to shop on credit, unlike most people in the Valley. The ban on mobile Internet has compounded their problems — it has severely limited their ability to purchase items with debit and credit cards.

“I had no money for a medical test,” said Zubair Ahmad, an engineer. “After finding three ATMs out of service, I finally managed to withdraw Rs 2,000. But the test cost Rs 2,400. I wanted to pay by debit card but they refused, saying their POS (point of sale) machine was not working because of the Internet ban. My friends finally bailed me out.”

Internet services in the Valley have been suspended since July 8, when Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed and protests began. The government later restored landline broadband Internet connections, but there are less than 6,000 broadband subscribers in the Valley. The POS machines provided by banks — mostly J&K Bank and HDFC Bank — access mobile Internet through SIM cards. With mobile Internet down, the POS machines are defunct.

In Srinagar’s business hub of Lal Chowk and Residency Road, only one departmental store was accepting debit and credit cards. Only one in more than 100 petrol pumps in the Valley had access to broadband Internet.

While the absence of online transactions is a concern in the Valley’s urban areas, there are few shopkeepers with the POS facility in rural pockets. “While most people have debit cards, it is useless for people like me,” said Nazir Ahmad, resident of Tangmarg. “I need cash for basic needs — milk, vegetables, meat. I can’t even buy medicines now.”

The state government said the people’s concerns were genuine. “You have flagged an important issue. It is a genuine concern,” government spokesperson and Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar told The Indian Express. “I will apprise Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti about it,” he added.

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  1. C
    Chander Pal
    Nov 14, 2016 at 12:18 am
    Vally is so peaceful.
    Reply
    1. I
      IslamForFoools
      Nov 14, 2016 at 7:48 am
      Hope they die of hunger
      Reply
      1. G
        Gora Chatterjee
        Nov 14, 2016 at 4:37 am
        This is exactly what I feared. In Jammu, there were some ATMs but they didnot function.lt;br/gt; But what about in Kashmir ? The ban on Internet has not been lifted. People are starving there. They will not live for another 50 days to see the results of Demonetisation. Only some starved corps may wink. People of Kashmir are not our enemies. Why cann't we have compion on them ?
        Reply
        1. G
          Gora Chatterjee
          Nov 14, 2016 at 4:46 am
          We must realise the pain of hunger. Year after year, we visit Kashmir for pleasure and we are well treated there. I last visited Srinagar in Dec,1984. I struck a friendship with a Kashmiri youth. He presented me with a book "Ernesto Che Guevara" -- a biography.
          Reply
          1. J
            Jay Dixit
            Nov 14, 2016 at 4:57 pm
            Go beg stan for money and Internet! Anne feel their response!!
            Reply
            1. P
              Pramod Sarhadi
              Nov 14, 2016 at 3:20 am
              No ques in Valley because separatists paud them with faje notes from stan ??
              Reply
              1. J
                Jyoti Sarup
                Nov 14, 2016 at 6:30 am
                Do the Kashmiri Muslims remember they way, booted out Pandits from the valley? That they won't, because where the shoe is biting the foot, is remembered by the person wearing the shoe.JS
                Reply
                1. L
                  Lalit Mohan
                  Nov 14, 2016 at 5:40 am
                  Had they not moved kashmiri pandits out of the valley this problem would have not poped up.
                  Reply
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