SRINAGAR/JAMMU: The authorities lifted restrictions on the movement of people in 35 police station areas of the Valley on Saturday and made landline phones operational by resuming services at 17 out of 96 telephone exchanges. More than 23,000 landlines in the Valley were functional by the evening.
Shops and business establishments in Kashmir, however, remained closed on Saturday.
The authorities also restored mobile internet services, but at 2G speed, in five districts of Jammu region on Saturday, after almost a fortnight, while restrictions on movement were eased in
during the day but would remain in force under CrPC Section 144 between 9pm and 5am, an official said in Jammu. The net-savvy started wishing each other on WhatsApp and Facebook as soon as the service was restored.
“Mobile internet service was restored at (Friday) midnight but with 2G speed,” an official said. The districts where mobile internet services have been restored are Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur and Reasi, but they remain suspended in Poonch, Rajouri, Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts, official sources said.
Government spokesman Rohit Kansal said on Saturday that no untoward incident was reported from the Valley areas where restrictions were relaxed and the process of easing would continue on Sunday in these areas after the local authorities had assessed the situation. He added that the authorities were working on opening the remaining landlines by Sunday evening.
Kansal, who is principal secretary (planning and development), said the easing of restrictions resulted in people emerging from their homes and private vehicles plying on the roads. He reiterated that the government was planning to reopen primary schools in the Valley for which the necessary arrangements were being made. “Public transport is plying and we have encouraging reports of a lot of public movement,” Kansal said.
Restrictions on movement under CrPC Section 144 were also lifted from parts of old
city and the restoration of exchanges enabled landline services in Budgam, Sonamarg and Manigam areas of central Kashmir. In north Kashmir, landline services were restored in Gurez, Tangmarg, Uri, Keran, Karnah and Tangdhar areas; in south Kashmir, services were made operational in Qazigund and Pahalgam areas, the spokesman said.
On the return of Hajis from Sunday onwards, Kashmir divisional commissioner Baseer Ahmad Khan said a comprehensive plan was in place to take the Hajis to their homes. He said two flights carrying over 300 Hajis are scheduled to land in Srinagar on Sunday morning and 10 counters for 10 districts, manned by nodal officers, have been set up. He said the deputy commissioners had issued passes to facilitate the movement of the relatives of the Hajis.
The authorities said mobile internet services had been restored at a low bandwidth as a preventive measure and to check rumour-mongering or objectionable content circulated on social media. “The decision to suspend mobile internet services was taken by the government only to prevent such elements that play spoilsport and create tension in society (sic),” sources said. They added that higher speeds would be restored soon.
On August 16, Rajouri police had booked two Facebook users for uploading “sensitive posts” on a social media platform. “Atiq Chowdhary and Farooq Choudhary have been booked for trying to provoke and incite hatred on the basis of religious and regional lines,” a police spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, DGP Dilbag Singh visited the south Kashmir districts of Awantipora and
on Saturday and reviewed the security scenario as well as deployment on the national highway from Srinagar to Anantnag. He was accompanied by IGP (Kashmir) S P Pani and joined by CRPF IGP Rajesh Kumar Yadav in Anantnag.
The DGP assured civil society members at various places that the security of the people and their property was of great concern to police and every step was being taken to ensure law and order.
The DGP later visited Anantnag where he interacted with police officers and reviewed the law-and-order situation. He complimented the people for their cooperation in maintaining peace and order and said restrictions in more areas would be eased on Sunday.