Jammu and Kashmir: MHA says landlines restored, schools functioning

Mobile services for essential government officials restored

Security-forces-Srinagar-Kashmir-PTI Security personnel divert traffic during curfew like restrictions in Srinagar, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced a further easing of the communications lockdown on Jammu and Kashmir, with landlines, internet kiosks and telephone exchanges restored.

According to the MHA, all landline services have been restored in Jammu and Kashmir, with postpaid mobile services restored in Kupwara.

The MHA said that schools are functioning with teacher-student attendance rates improving and at 75 per cent, all health institutions are fully functional with 510,870 Out-Patient-Departments (OPD) and 15,157 surgeries.

In addition, the MHA announced that all banks and ATMs are now functional and that stocks of petroleum products and food garains was now ‘adequate’. The MHA tweeted that ‘movement of over 42600 trucks carrying supplies since August 6’ had taken place.

The updates did no specify whether general internet services were restored, but stated: “10 internet kiosks, five terminals each, at all district HQs for departmental purposes like e-tendering, submissions of scholarship forms, job applications”.

The MHA report said that “mobile no’s of officials belonging to essential services and other offices have also been restored.”

On September 3, Union Home Minister Amit Shah told a delegation from Jammu and Kashmir that the communication blockade would be lifted win 10-15 days, according to CNN IBN.

President’s Rule was put into force on Kashmir on January 3, 2019, and was later extended by six months from the data of July 3.

Mobile services in Kashmir have been down since August 4, a day before the announcement of the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A.

Since then, 2G mobile services were restored in Jammu, Reasi, Samba, Kathua and Udhampur, although they were temporarily disconnected the next day.

On August 29, officials said that restoration of internet soon was unlikely due to a Pakistani anti-India propaganda campaign taking place online.

Experts from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) have called the blackout “inconsistent with the fundamental norms of necessity and proportionality,” adding that it was “a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence.”

The easing of restrictions comes a day after India and Pakistan clashed at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva.

Earlier, a PTI report said that restrictions were lifted from most parts of Kashmir on Wednesday and some areas in Srinagar city witnessed an increased presence of private transport leading to traffic jams but schools remained closed and public transport was off the roads, officials said.

The city witnessed increased movement of private vehicles on Wednesday leading to traffic jams at several places on the Karan Nagar-Batamaloo-Lal Chowk-Dalgate axis, the officials said. They said few auto rickshaws and inter-district cabs were also seen plying in some areas of the city.

The officials said restrictions have been lifted from most areas of the valley, but security forces continued to be deployed to maintain law and order.

The restrictions were re-imposed in parts of the valley on Tuesday to prevent any procession in the city and elsewhere in the valley on the tenth day of Muharram.

With inputs from PTI