Landline phones back in IoK but calls still not going through

The government in occupied Kashmir said landline telephone service had been restored a month into a near-total communications blackout and security lockdown was imposed as India’s Hindu nationalist-led government stripped Kashmiris of the constitutional rights they had for seven decades through a rushed presidential order on August 5.

On Thursday, people lined up at offices or homes that have landline telephones to try to contact family and friends after the long wait, but many were unable to get through after repeated attempts.

“Our landlines have been restored but we are still unable to talk to people. It is frustrating. I have been trying to call people since morning, but I am not getting through,” said Syed Musahid in Srinagar.

Many Kashmiris living outside the region also said they were having trouble getting in touch with their families inside occupied Kashmir.

An Indian paramilitary trooper stands guard during a lockdown in Srinagar on September 6, 2019. – Agencies

“I kept trying a hundred times to reach my family in Kashmir, and only then did my call go through,” said Bint-e-Ali, a Kashmiri in Bengaluru.

She said she still hasn’t been able to talk to her ailing grandmother in Srinagar.

“I hope I live to tell this horrendous tale to our next generation about how India didn’t even let us talk to our family and friends,” she said.

The government said it suspended communications on August 5 to prevent rumours from spreading after Article 370 was revoked. The suspension has almost completely isolated Kashmir’s residents.

Srinagar resident Firdous Ahmad said the restoration of landline service “definitely brings a sigh of relief” but he also he hoped cellphone and internet data services, which are more widely used, would be restored soon.

The India media reported restrictions had been lifted on daytime movements in the disputed region. However, checkpoints remain in place.

Protests over India’s moves have occurred sporadically in occupied Kashmir and were quelled by security forces who fired pellets and tear gas.