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Communications blackout in J&K leaves families worried

August 8, 2019
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Communications blackout in J&K leaves families worried

JAMMU: While India waits for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first address after the abrogation of Article 370, residents of Kashmir valley are waiting to hear from their loved ones amid a communication blackout.

Since August 4 (Sunday), the Centre has shut down the communication channels—internet, landline and mobile networks—in Kashmir. The communication blackout in the entire Kashmir valley and parts of Jammu has put thousands of people in a state of worry who are not even aware of the well-being of their families and friends.

Mohammad Asif, a resident of Rajouri, said his nephew is a government officer and posted in South Kashmir area of the Valley, but he hasn’t heard from him since Sunday. “My nephew is in the Valley, but we are not aware of his well-being and can only pray for his safety and are hopeful that communication services will be restored soon and we will be able to talk to him,” said Asif.

Restore communication channels: Residents

Families across the newly-formed Union Territory are anxious about the safety of family members in different parts of the region. As the Valley staggers to normalcy, residents of the region are also demanding that the Centre lift the communication blockage.

Muzaffar Ahmed Mughal, a resident of Manjakote area of Rajouri, said his sister and brother have been putting up in a rented accommodation in Jammu as they are enrolled in local institutes for education but lamented at the absence of communication channel to contact them.

“We are not able to contact them and they are not able to contact us and this gap of communication will surely be worrying them also,” said Muzaffar who demanded that the government restore communication lines in parts of Jammu and Kashmir where there are low risks of any flare-ups or riots.

The repercussions of the shutdown show that even the residents of Jammu, who have family and friends in various parts of the region, have been affected.

Mohammad Hafiz, a resident of Jammu, said half of his family members, including parents, live in Kishtwar town of the erstwhile Doda district, which is also known as the Chenab valley of Jammu province, and he is worried about their safety and well-being.

“In some parts, landline telephones are functional, but only one in a thousand households have landline telephones nowadays and it shows that the communication blackout has affected the entire population of Jammu and Kashmir,” Hafiz added.

While the situation is scary for the civilians, even government officials are unable to contact their loved ones. A. Altaf Ahmed, a government official in Poonch district, said his daughter, son and nephews are studying outside Jammu and Kashmir and there has been no contact between them from the last four days.

“Every family like ours is worried in such a situation, and we urge the government authorities to restore the communication channels,” he added.

Back to normal soon?

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval took stock of the situation in Srinagar on Wednesday and met with Governor Satya Pal Malik. He also met with the security forces deployed in the Valley.

Officials said that keeping in view the prevailing situation, authorities have decided not to give any relaxation in curfew. They further said that the decision to suspend cellular calling service and internet services in fifteen districts of Jammu and Kashmir will also be reviewed in a few days.