‘It’s Like Eid’: How Kashmiris Felt on Finally Talking to Family

Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim

On Monday, 14 October, phones with postpaid connections in Kashmir buzzed back to life, breaking the two-month communication clampdown that was enforced in the Valley in the light of Article 370’s abrogation.

The Quint spoke to Kashmiris living in Delhi and in the Valley to see if they were able to contact those they had been unable to since 5 August when the Centre abrogated Article 370, which granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“Since 12 pm, there has been a bombardment of calls. It’s almost like it’s Eid,” said an entrepreneur from Srinagar, Shahnawaz*.

Shahran Qayoom, working in an entertaining company, spoke to his grandfather in Srinagar who has a BSNL-postpaid network.

“I asked him how he is, he said he's fine. I asked him if he really was alright. We have talked once before. I asked him if he remembers it too. He asked me if I have enough money for myself. I also missed two weddings which happened in my family recently, so he was sad about that,” shared Qayoom.

Hammad* is a doctor in one of the public hospitals in Srinagar. He got to speak to his brother-in-law in London after being out of touch for over 70 days.

“It felt very nice,” he said, “It was really overwhelming. For the first 10-15 minutes, we could not even believe we were talking to each other.”

No Internet Impedes the Billing Process

Misbah Reshi, who is a DU law faculty student from Kashmir, shared how her family was not able to really know about her grandmother’s health after she fell sick recently.

"“It’s really funny because even if they have started postpaid, people really don’t know how to pay postpaid bills, because there’s no internet. So even when I spoke to my cousin, she said she does not know how to call back...I had to figure out a way to pay the bill from here.”" - Misbah Reshi, DU Student

Also Read: Kashmiris Asked to Pay Postpaid Phone ‘Dues’ for Aug-Sept Blockade

‘Not Everyone Has Postpaid’

Shah Mustafeez Bashir, a student of NIT Srinagar, said, “We had a landline since my brother is a government servant. Postpaid is not so widespread. People don't prefer postpaid. It was strange...after two months, you get a call from home. Some relatives actually called me and it was strange. It was like a new invention.”

Another student, Eijaz Jaffri, who is working on a PhD in the Persian department from Delhi University, said that he was able to contact his family as they are based in Jammu where communication has relatively been more relaxed. He does, however, mention his friends and other relatives in the Valley who he hasn’t spoken to the past two months.

“They have restored postpaid, but everybody doesn’t have postpaid plans. I don’t know if all of the people I know have postpaid or not. I will try to call and find out,” he said.

While postpaid users breathe a sigh of relief, over 25 lakh prepaid connections, along with internet services, remain deactivated in Kashmir for now, officials said.

Governor Satya Pal Malik has said that internet services would be resumed soon, but officials in the security establishment maintained that the process might take up to another two months, reported PTI.

*Name changed to protect identity

Also Read: ‘New Civil Disobedience in Kashmir’: Ground Report by 4 Citizens

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