Mobile phones in Kashmir buzzed back to life on Monday, connecting 40 lakh post-paid subscribers to their families and friends in the country, the Valley and their neighbourhoods after 72 days but without any internet facilities.
The phones started ringing from noon as promised by the government on Saturday and people across the Valley quickly dialled out to speak to those they had been unable to since August 5, when the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and reorganised the state into two union territories.
The resumption of the service is only on post-paid connections and only for voice calls and SMS. Over 25 lakh prepaid mobile phones and other internet services, including WhatsApp, will remain deactivated for now, officials said.
Connectivity was snapped exactly a week before Eid, celebrated on August 12. And so great was the relief on Monday that many Kashmiris wished each other Eid Mubarak.
“This day is no less than Eid for us. In a global era of the world becoming one, transcending borders, we were cut off from the rest of the world for more than two months,” said Nighat Shah.
Basharat Ahmad, a resident of the old city, lost no time in calling his friends and relatives within Kashmir and outside to just hear their voices after the long gap. In just an hour, he made 30 calls.
“I had not spoken to my relatives in Delhi and elsewhere outside Kashmir for 70 days. I want to hear from all of them and want to tell them we are still alive,” Ahmad said.
It was a tough 72 days even for those whose loved ones stayed close by.
Yasir Ahad said he was talking to his fiancee when the lines snapped abruptly.
“I was not able to contact my fiancee who lives just five kilometres from my place. We got engaged in July this year and two weeks later we had no information about each other’s well being,” Ahad said.
Ahad, who plans to get married next spring, said he would talk to his fiancee every day till the sudden communication blockade came into force in the early hours of August 5.
“I was talking to her when the signal went off. Initially, I thought there was something wrong with my phone but soon realised that the rumours ahead of August 5 were not unfounded,” he added.