Mobiles ring again in Kashmir Valley, people overwhelmed

Srinagar: Mobile phones ringing again have made Kashmir happy. Suddenly, life seems to have sprung back and people are smiling as some pervading tension has vanished.

Though only postpaid mobile services are working and internet continues to be shut down, the ringing is no less than some music that seems to be giving some hope to the people in the Valley.

Taken in by the ringing, Article 370 or the leaders in detention seem to be the least of the concerns at the moment. Resumption of communication, though partially, has for the time being overwhelmed the valley.

A media professional said that he received 20-30 calls in the first half-an-hour after the restriction was lifted at 12 noon on Monday.

Young hotelier Suhail Banday was continuously on the phone for hours together, calling his clients all over the country and abroad to assure them that he was alright besides inviting them to visit the Valley.

Another young businessman Shah Firdous received and made calls incessantly to his relatives and clients.

From the moment the signal sign emerged on the mobile handset, people in the Valley have been on their phones, even forgetting lunch or dinner.

Rubina, who owns a garment boutique here, said: “I know I would be busy once the mobile phones start working, so I made lunch early in the morning. But I have not been able to eat as I am getting calls continuously from all my relatives and friends.”

She is happy that mobiles have started working and feels that the Valley will start working again now.

Suhail, Rubina or Firdous are happy that they have post-paid connections, but there are many who have the preferred pre-paid connections.

Irshad, a student at the Central University in Kashmir, was frantically searching for ways to get his pre-paid connection converted to post-paid. He even called his friends in Delhi to help him out.

Since internet services are restricted in the Valley for the time being, people are forced to pay bills, change plans and seek post-paid connections from designated shops only and long queues of people were seen outside these shops.

It may take a while for the internet to get restored, but the beginning is being taken well by the people. The administration is hoping that people may now actually start moving out of their homes and start working.

The transporters had been demanding resumption of service and are likely to start public services soon, which will also help the parents send their children to schools and colleges.

With the curbs on tourist travel also lifted, the tour operators, hoteliers and houseboat owners are now feeling that things will start moving now.

Rayees Ahmed, who has a hotel in Pahalagm, said: “My staff were sitting idle and with no income, it was not easy for me to pay them. Now I am hoping to get some tourists back.”

For the past 70 days, ever since the abrogation of Article 370 which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, many parts of the Valley have been under an unprecedented communication clampdown.

Sahil Tassaduk, who stays in downtown Srinagar, said: “In these two months, I have walked the narrow lanes and bylanes which I had stopped a long time ago. I met many of my relatives and sat with my neighbours which I never used to do earlier. I have utilised the time to bond.”

For Rubina, these months have been full of anxiety as her three children are studying in a school in Noida. She said: “It was tough for me, but I have the consolation that my younger sister lives in Noida only, so I was a bit assured that they have someone there to turn to.”

But not all are fortunate like Rubina. There have been several stories of anguish, pain and anger because of the communication clampdown since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.

With the clampdown being gradually removed, the people of the Valley are trying to get back on track and Article 370 seems to be the least of their concerns for now.