As phones ring, Kashmir crawls towards normalcy

SRINAGAR: After more than two months of uncertainty that has led to daytime shutdown of markets in the Kashmir valley, signs are emerging that the region is steadily and slowly moving towards the restoration of normalcy.

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, October 14

After more than two months of uncertainty that has led to daytime shutdown of markets in the Kashmir valley, signs are emerging that the region is steadily and slowly moving towards the restoration of normalcy.

Mobile phones ringed on Monday noon across Kashmir for the first time since August 4 midnight, when a communication blockade was imposed hours ahead of the abrogation of Article 370.

While the restoration was limited to postpaid phones, hundreds of prepaid users queued outside telecom offices to purchase a postpaid connection.

The restoration of the mobile phones is a major confidence-building measure that is likely to help break the bottleneck. “The restoration of phones has given a sense that things will get normal soon,” said Zeeshan Ahmad, a Srinagar resident and a private sector employee.

An employee of a telecom company said the rush of people to purchase postpaid mobile phone connections was unprecedented and people began to assemble outside telecom offices within minutes of the restoration.

“It seems the restoration of phones has made people forget about everything,” the telecom company employee said.

An unprecedented communication blockade which included suspension of internet services had discouraged people from resuming normal schedule of life in Kashmir as people struggled to get real-time updates amid an air of rumours.

In recent weeks, the volume of traffic has increased manifold even as public transport remains shut and daytime shutdown has meant closure of markets and shops across the region.

The inter-district cab services, even though limited in number, have also been restored which ply from Srinagar to districts of north Kashmir and also to less volatile districts of south Kashmir.

The state administration has also launched a major reach-out programme through newspaper advertisements in which it is urging people to resume normal work and open shops.

The sporadic incidents of protests that took place in the initial weeks since the abrogation have also drastically dropped in intensity and spread.

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