For years they were considered obsolete. But after a fortnight of communication restrictions across Jammu and Kashmir since the Centre scrapped the state’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories, the Valley is queuing up outside telephone exchanges — for landline telephones, new and old.
Over the weekend, the J&K administration announced that the unprecedented security curbs across the state would be relaxed in phases, starting with landline phones, exchange-by-exchange.
“Our landline has not been working for the last two years. Today, I came here to restore it. There is no option for us other than the landline now. We are back to the old times,” said Abdul Majid, a resident of Khanyar, who was at Srinagar’s exchange at Lal chowk Tuesday.
He is not the only one. Almost all BSNL exchanges in Srinagar and other areas across the Valley are witnessing huge queues of people who want their landline phones restored.
“No one had imagined that there come a day when only landlines would work and there will be such a communication blockade. My children are studying outside and we are not able to talk to them. I came here today to restore my old connection. I have been informed that I have to clear my old dues,” said Zubair Jehangir, a resident of Ram Bagh area, outside the BSNL exchange in Barzulla area of Srinagar.
A senior BSNL officer told The Indian Express that over the last few days, dozens have turned up at exchanges. “We are also receiving requests from the general public for new connections. There is no doubt that landlines are back in demand,” said the official.
The official also said that they are not able to restore services on the ground as the staff are not able to reach their offices, because of the prevailing security situation.
While the government said that landline services were being restored slowly across the Valley, in Srinagar’s Lalchowk, where the main exchange is located, subscribers said that services were restored for two hours Monday and then disconnected again.