The government has further strengthened the blockade of the communication services here with police asking the state run BSNL to stop issuing the new post-paid SIM cards to people.
According to BSNL officials the police had earlier asked the BSNL to suspend the services including the landline connections which they have however opposed. The BSNL post-paid service and the landline connections are the only means of communication here in Kashmir.
However on Sunday police have asked the BSNL not to issue any fresh SIM cards. Officials said that the police have issued the directive blaming the state run telecom company that it had issued the SIM cards to the people in the South Kashmir areas. The BSNL had issued 150 SIM cards after the unrest in the South Kashmir areas and police have informed it that this was fanning the unrest there.
A security official said that they are apprehending that the protestors will try to pull in the youth in areas where the presence of the security force personnel was not heavy by remaining in touch through the cell-phones. “The blocking of the SIM card will help us to restore the situation swiftly,’’ he said.
Government has blocked the services of all telecom providers and the only service that is running is that of BSNL. In the South Kashmir areas the land line and mobile services are currently functioning while as there is complete communication blockade in the North Kashmir areas of Baramulla and Bandipora. The services have remained disrupted after the civilian killings in the North Kashmir areas. However a senior BSNL official said that unidentified persons had damaged the optical fiber cable of the BSNL at Pattan due to which both the land line and the cell-phone services to the North Kashmir areas have remained affected. “This is sabotage and despite the prevailing tensions, we have deployed the men to restore the network in the area,” said an official. He said that the services to the North Kashmir areas will be resumed by tomorrow.
Due to the disruption in the cell phone and the internet services the people are facing massive inconvenience. Even the people are not able to contact their family members. Residents from the rural areas, who are putting up in Srinagar particularly those from the restive areas of South Kashmir, have not been able to reach out to their families raising concerns about their safety. The breakdown of the internet and the cell-phone services has also hit the tourism industry here.
A senior official working in a private telecom company said that they have received the orders from the police that they shouldn’t restore the services until the fresh orders from their side.