In a New Year gift, Short Message Service (SMS) was restored on all mobile phones in Kashmir, starting at midnight on Tuesday, after over four-and-a-half months of suspension. Broadband services were also resumed in government schools and hospitals.
While the move has been welcomed in Kashmir, there is a feeling that the government should now restore broadband internet services for the public.
"We appreciate the government's decision to restore SMS in Kashmir, but it will be really helpful if the government moves a step ahead and opens up the internet," said Riyaz Ahmed, who is preparing for PhD.
"We have to go to the government office now for filing our e-tenders. Our difficulties won't end. However, we appreciate the step," said Altaf Ahmed, a government contractor.
Amid a security lockdown, mobile and landline phones were blocked in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir after the government revoked its special status granted under Article 370 of the constitution. The move also bifurcated the J&K into two union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
While broadband internet has been restored in Jammu, it still remains suspended in Kashmir. Mobile internet service continues to remain blocked both in Jammu and Srinagar. The service was restored last week in Kargil area of the newly formed Union Territory of Ladakh.
Prepaid mobile phone services continue to remain suspended in Kashmir. The shutdown in the region was the longest ever imposed in a democracy.
Mobile internet services in Ladakh's Kargil
Mobile internet services were restored in Kargil in Union Territory of Ladakh on December 27, 2019 after 145 days of a shutdown. The services were briefly restored in October for a fortnight but then were shut again.
"We have restored internet today morning. The broadband was never shut in Kargil," Bashirul Haq Chaudhary told IANS.
He said: "The district administration has spoken to all the stakeholders, including the religious leaders to help prevent any misuse of the mobile internet.
"Kargil has always remained peaceful and we hope that everybody will play his part to ensure that it remains like that."
The internet blockade has caused a lot of inconvenience to the students and businessmen across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The people have been demanding that the services be restored so that their difficulties come to an end.