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Tariq Bhat
Tariq Bhat


Newspapers help connect people in curfew-hit Kashmir

PTI7_27_2016_000128B A security jawan stands guard during curfew at Lal Chowk in Srinagar | PTI

Newspapers are a great means of information. But it can be an effective way of communication when nothing else works out in troubled times like in Kashmir.

In the wake of protests and clashes across Kashmir sparked by the killing of young Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani and two of his associates on July 8, the government had suspended internet and mobile telephony to calm down tempers.

For the people, the sudden breakdown in communication has been highly frustrating. However, a few newspapers in Kashmir like the Greater Kashmir and Rising Kashmir have come to the rescue of the people by allowing them to use their online helplines to connect with their beloved ones.

As expected, the newspapers have been swarmed by messages by people in Kashmir, outside and even from abroad. These messages highlight the trauma of living in the Valley.

"Call Iqbal for help in Delhi," read a message on the online helpine of the Greater Kashmir, Kashmir's leading English newspaper. "If any Kashmiri needs any sort of help in south Delhi, feel free to contact Iqbal Rather (09871007413)."

The helpline has been flooded with messages by frantic people in and out of the state, some from foreign countries, who tried to enquire about their loved ones after government snapped mobile internet and telephony due to the ongoing separatist agitation.

Some of the messages like the one Manzoor Bakshi wrote from Saudi Arabia, have been very moving.

"I am working in Saudi Arabia. For past 19 days, we have no information about our families. I used to talk to my mother everyday and she used to wait for my call even till the midnight. She is a sugar patient and is unwell. I appeal to government to lift ban of mobile services without any delay." Another message on the paper's helpline by Amir Wani, an engineer in power grid corporation, read: "If anybody needs any internet related help, contact me on 9560891984."

Another read: “Asalamualaikum, I talked to my widow mother 15 days before. She suffers from a couple of chronic diseases and I don't even know if she has medicine or not." Imtiyaz Tarafarosh, a Kashmiri living in Tokyo, posted a message saying: "If any Kashmiri here needs any help, please contact me on +81-702-813-0057."

A Russian woman married to a Kashmiri man desperately sought to connect with her husband in the Valley. Her message appeared as, “Russian wife wants to know about her husband." It further read: "My name is Rita Khan, I'm from Russia. My husband Anwar Iqbal Khan is in Kashmir. I haven't had any news from him for a long time. We have a small daughter, she is just 3-years-old, please, if you can help for getting any information, help us. He is a resident of Soura Green Colony, Lane 7, Srinagar. Please let us know any information about my husband and all family. Best regards, Rita Khan."

There were appeals from Kashmiris living in Bahrain requesting the government to restore mobile communications. "I am writing to you on behalf of all Kashmiris living in Bahrain to restore the mobile and internet services in Kashmir, as we have not talked to our families for the last two weeks and are worried about them," wrote Ali from Bahrian.

Firdous Ahmed Dar, a Srinagar resident, in his message requested the General Manager of BSNL to extend landline billing date or allow the payment of this month's bill with next month's bill.

Mobile phone services from various service providers were restored across the Kashmir Valley on Wednesday after 20 days. Internet services on mobile phones, however, continued to remain suspended in the valley.

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