Two days after the Jammu and Kashmir administration said restrictions would be lifted in phases, schools are set to re-open Monday as the communications blackout continued across most parts of the Valley on Sunday barring some areas. And in Jammu, mobile Internet services in five of ten districts were suspended again, 24 hours after being restored.
While fixed-line telephone connections in some areas of Srinagar and other parts of the Valley including tourist resorts were restored, major telephone exchanges in the region remain shut. In Jammu, the suspension of 2G mobile Internet sparked rumours across the region, leading to long queues at petrol pumps.
The state has remained under an unprecedented communications blackout since August 5, when the Centre moved to end the special status of the state and bifurcated J&K into two Union Territories.
In Srinagar, the Baghat and Gogjibagh telephone exchanges, catering to the civil lines areas, were restored as was the Indira Nagar exchange that services the cantonment. Officials, however, said they have no directions to restore the Lalchowk exchange, the city’s main exchange that has the most connections and services the business hub of Srinagar.
Landline connections under the Soura, Hariparbat, Karan Nagar, Zainakote and Bemina exchanges in the city continue to remain suspended. ISD facilities to the restored landlines have been withdrawn as has Internet connectivity. The government has also restored landlines in tourist resorts of Gulmarg and Sonamarg and the border areas of Uri.
In north Kashmir, wired telephone communication was not restored in Sopore, Baramulla and Bandipore by Sunday evening and was still suspended in Kupwara.
On Sunday, J&K spokesman Rohit Kansal said all the landlines in the Valley would be restored as quickly as possible, while declining to divulge the number of connections restored. “The process of easing of restrictions including easing of communication restrictions will continue and as I mentioned yesterday, we will endeavour that landline communication is restored to its full functionality as quickly as possible, subject of course to physical limitations that BSNL is facing and any technical constraints that it faces,” he said.
Asked if the main telephone exchanges in the Valley were functioning, he said: “For one, I will tell you there is no positive discrimination in favour of anybody. My own telephone got operational only five minutes ago.”
“Over 190 primary schools will reopen tomorrow in Srinagar alone and after this, we look forward to other areas like taking up development-related activities.”
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Meanwhile, in Jammu, Divisional Commissioner Sanjeev Verma attributed the disconnection of mobile Internet service to technical issues, saying “there was too much load in respect to the flow of data and the slow 2G network was not able to cope with it”.
On Saturday, the J&K administration had restored 2G Internet service across five districts including Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Reasi and Udhampur. It had also lifted prohibitory orders in Rajouri and Kishtwar districts during the day and ordered educational institutions re-opened.
While BSNL mobile networks were restored in Rajouri and Poonch districts, GPRS services remained suspended.
IGP Jammu zone Mukesh Singh asked people not to pay heed to “rumours being circulated”. “There is also a rumour regarding a strike in Jammu due to which there are long queues at petrol pumps,” he said, adding “I would like to inform all the citizens that all such rumours are false. No incident had taken place anywhere as is being circulated.”
“The 2G network has temporarily been disconnected due to some technical reasons which are being rectified and efforts are on ensure connectivity as soon as possible,” he said, reiterating that rumour mongers will be dealt with strictly.
10-year-old injured in Pak shelling
Jammu: A 10-year-old girl was injured as Pakistan continued unprovoked mortar shelling and small arms fire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri and Poonch districts for the second day on Sunday.
Identifying the girl as Saida Kousar of Dabraj, sources said she was injured on Saturday night in Mankote area of Poonch district. She has been admitted to hospital.