Article 370 abolished: Lovely letters and landline phone returns in Kashmir
Since the abolition of the special constitutional status of Kashmir, most of the means of communication in the Indian-administered Kashmir have been disconnected. In this situation, people are forced to adopt the old method of communication.
A Delhi woman who returned from a vacation in Kashmir in July has been forced to write a letter of communication, after failing to contact her friends in Kashmir.
He wrote in his letter, “Alas we are going through a cruel period. The night before each sunrise is darkest. And it’s not morning yet. My heart is broken. ‘
The reason for their breakdown is obvious.
Black hole of information
There are about 100 million people living in Kashmir. Narendra Modi’s rule on August 5 declared the end of Jammu and Kashmir’s sovereignty and abolished its unique constitutional status and since then, communication has been disrupted.
Landline phone, mobile phone and Internet service have been suspended, which a local newspaper editor has termed a “black hole of information”.
More than a month has passed since the change in Kashmir’s constitutional status, except for the government’s claim that 80% of landline telephones have been restored, all other restrictions are in place.
The idea for the Delhi woman to write a letter to her friends in Kashmir came when she saw a post by a Kashmiri journalist on Facebook. Kashmiri journalist wrote his post on Facebook during a visit to Delhi.
Waqar Syed is a freelance journalist. Due to lack of internet access in Kashmir, Waqar Syed traveled to Delhi where he gave various news ideas to different newspapers.
Waqar Syed suddenly got the idea and posted another message on Facebook. In this message, he wrote to the people of his district in Kashmir that if they want to convey their message to them then send them a message with their address and they will go back to Kashmir and try their best to send their message to their families. To reach
Waqar Syed left Delhi for Srinagar two days later, and he had seventeen messages from different corners of the world. These messages were to be conveyed to relatives living in Kashmir. Some of them sent digital messages to them, while some made pictures of the written messages and sent them via Facebook Messenger.
The Delhi woman wrote to her friend in Kashmir in a message that ‘dialing the telephone number made my fingers swollen’.
On returning to Kashmir, Waqar Syed traveled outside Srinagar and reached the addresses himself and conveyed the messages to the people.
Waqar Syed says, “I searched all the addresses and knocked on the door and showed them the messages on my phone. Most were good news. ‘
‘When I conveyed the message of a Kashmiri youth studying in Chandigarh to his parents that he had taken a second position in the exam, his mother started to hug me and cry. They told me you were like my baby. ‘
The old habits of communication have begun to come back because of old age. The practice of writing letters in Kashmir is returning.
Irfan Ahmed, 26, loved a girl in his neighborhood. To communicate with his friend, he used to write letters in the past and convey those letters to his friends and then get a written reply from there.
Irfan Ahmed says that after the recent closure of our contacts on the phone, then we started writing letters.
Landline phone return
The digital market in India is developing very fast with over one billion mobile phone users and 56 million internet users. In comparison, the number of landline phones is only 23 million.
But in Kashmir, people are now submitting applications for landline phones or trying to restore landline phones that were shut down due to non-use.
Now that the second month of closures has begun in Kashmir, landline phones are restoring. However, people still complain that the phone is apparently having trouble communicating.
Security forces have also set up temporary call centers on the roads. These call centers are based on a plastic table, a few chairs and a Chinese-made phone from which people are facilitated by the phone. Some police stations also have free phone service.
Communications closures in Kashmir provide a glimpse of the problems people are facing at a similar telephone center where Manzoor Ahmed is trying to contact his clients.
Manzoor Ahmad Kashmiri, 50, trades in shawls. They are trying to call their customers outside of Kashmir who are responsible for their money.
“They sent me checks,” he says. I went to the bank (some banks are open) so they told me that all their contacts were disconnected, so they were unable to take the necessary steps to pay for this check. Now I’m walking around the city to phone to tell my clients that they can make payments via bank transfer. ‘
Passion for help
Yasmin Misrat operates a travel agency from a one-room office in Srinagar, where some landlines have been restored. Yasmin Misrat thought that to help people on this occasion.
He opened his office from mid-August, demonstrating bravery and provided free phone calls to people from the same landline. In his office, there are small notices in which people are being requested to make necessary and brief statements. In a short time, 500 people arrived at their office where 1000 free calls are being made daily.
Among the callers was an eight-year-old girl who came there with her grandmother. An eight-year-old girl wants to talk to her mother in Mumbai who is being treated for cancer in Mumbai.
When this eight-year-old girl repeatedly told her mother to get back in soon, the people there were taking siski. Yasmeen Masrat says another person called outside Kashmir to inform her that her grandmother had died a few days ago.
When contacts from Kashmir to India are so difficult, Kashmiris living abroad are sending their messages to various media organizations. Delhi’s satellite channel ‘Gulistan News’ is playing video messages sent by people to their loved ones with each bulletin. The television administration says they have run hundreds of announcements to cancel wedding ceremonies.
One day a young man went to the Gulistan News office in Srinagar to search for his father. Shoaib Mir, 26, requested Gulistan News to help his father find him.
He had taken a picture of his 75-year-old father. Shoaib Mir’s father went for a walk in the morning and he has no idea. Shoaib Mir says he has searched for his father everywhere but no success and if the channel releases his video message he may be able to help him find the father.
This channel is trying to connect people but its work is being affected. The channel is experiencing difficulties with news delivery due to communication restrictions. Every day a channel official visits Delhi from Srinagar where he is broadcast after editing all the news and footage.
Local newspapers, usually sixteen to twenty pages, have now been reduced to six to eight pages.
For weeks, at least 200 journalists gather at ten government-established Internet centers where they can send news and photos to their organizations. Journalist personnel rush to their offices to pick up the news and fill up the blank pages of the newspaper.
A photographer here told me that this place (internet center) tests our patience. It only took me seven hours to send me a photo yesterday.
Never benefited from a shutdown?
This is not the first time that Internet access in Kashmir has been suspended. According to a site that monitors internet closure in India, internet access has been suspended 51 times this year in Kashmir.
Since 2011, Internet access has been suspended 170 times in Kashmir, including six months in 2016.
Kashmir Times executive editor Anu Radha Bhasin has challenged the government’s decision to ban communication in Kashmir in the Supreme Court of India on the ground that it is a violation of human rights.
He says the shutdown means that the media cannot report the change in the region and that residents of Kashmir have been denied access to information provided to citizens in the rest of the country.
The government says it must restrict access to information to prevent violent incidents in the region. India accuses Pakistan of supporting Pakistan’s militants, which does not lead to peace in the region. Pakistan denies Indian allegations
India’s Foreign Minister SJ Shankar said, “Someone can tell me how I can break the connection between the terrorists and their masters, but the common people have access to the Internet.”
But research has revealed that such closures cause even more violence. “We have found that such incidents are more associated with collective violence than peaceful gatherings,” said John Rydzek, a Stanford University student.
The future of Kashmir is uncertain. It is not yet clear when communication will be stopped or reduced. But there are also some rays of hope. One morning last week, the landline that the news network rented was suddenly restored. Chief reporter Syed Rauf said, “Maybe things will get better now. We live on hope. ‘