Junaid Nabi Bazaz
Srinagar: For the first time since mobile phones and mobile internet services were introduced in the Kashmir valley in 2003, authorities on Monday surprised everyone by not blocking the services on the occasion of the 66th Republic Day of India.
For the past more than 10 years, the authorities would disconnect cellphone and internet services in the morning on R-Day and the Independence Day. The services were restored once the celebratory parades across the valley were over.
This year, according to deputy inspector general of police (Central Kashmir) Afadul Mujtaba, security agencies did not feel the need for snapping the services.
“Compared to previous years, we felt the degree of threat was less,” Mujtaba told Kashmir Reader. He said a series of gunfights so far this year had nothing to do with keeping the communication networks open on this R-Day.
He also said that with each passing day, as the “peace is taking roots in the valley, these steps are inevitable”. Whether this will continue in future will depend on the situation, Mujtaba said.
The reason behind shutting down communication system on January 26 was twofold. First, in case of a protests, a disconnect between the people will make it easier for government forces to contain the situation and prevent the dissent from being disseminated. Thousands of Kashmiri users of social media draw attention to complete strike observed on this day in protest through networking sites, as hardly any Indian media outlet highlights that aspect.
Second, it minimized the attacks by militants who also use cellphones to set off improvised explosive devices.
State authorities had also banned SMS services in the wake of 2008 and 2010 anti-India uprisings. The service was restored in May last year after National Conference lost all its parliamentary seats for the first time in its history.
As per the official figures, around seven million mobile phone subscribers in the Valley were hit by the disruption.