Govt snaps mobile phone service again

Authorities last night snapped mobile phone service in Kashmir once again, causing immense inconvenience to thousands of subscribers.  Only state-run BSNL postpaid numbers and landlines are presently working while outgoing call facility of BSNL pre-paid numbers stands barred.

Earlier, the service was suspended after massive protests erupted against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.  The cell phone service was again abruptly snapped at around 11.30 pm last night, causing inconvenience to subscribers in Kashmir where curfew remained in place for the 35th consecutive day on Friday.

The authorities had snapped mobile internet facility in entire Kashmir on July 9, day after Burhan’s killing. While the postpaid services of private companies were restored on July 26, the incoming call facility on prepaid numbers was restored a day later. However, the outgoing facility on prepaid numbers continued to remain barred. Mobile internet also continued to remain snapped for the 35th straight day on Friday.

Cellular services, except BSNL postpaid, were first snapped in district Srinagar on July 15 in the aftermath of widespread protests across Kashmir.  The facility was snapped in south Kashmir on July 8 itself.

A group of postpaid subscribers of private companies expressed resentment against the snapping of services time and gain. “Companies are asking us to pay monthly bills despite the service remaining suspended for the month. We strongly oppose the government’s move of snapping the mobile service again and again,” they said.

They alleged that companies were shooting them bills, showing add-on charges like internet packs, hello tunes and others.

“Large number of subscribers had opted for monthly internet packs. We are being asked to pay the charges of those packs also despite the fact that mobile internet remains suspended for the past one month,” they rued. “The payments of bills and any add-on packs must be waived off for the period service remains suspended.”

Similarly, the pre-paid subscribers said they have not used the mobile internet services and demanded validity of the internet pack to be extended.

“Snapping of service comes even as the government has been claiming improvement in Kashmir situation,” they said.

However, an official said, the service has been suspended in view of protests that take place after Friday prayers. However, he refused to comment on when the service would be exactly restored.

Meanwhile, the J&K Government has asked Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to stop internet services in Kashmir “immediately”, Greater Kashmir has learnt.

Several service providers said they got phone calls from authorities directing them to suspend the internet services, especially to newspapers and other media houses.

Only last night, the authorities blocked for the second time in a month the mobile phone services, except the state-owned BSNL post-paid phones. It has impacted work in newspaper offices.

[Source: Greater kashmir]