STD/Internet ban in Kashmir in its fourth month

BY Kausar Bukhari| IN Media Freedom | 19/04/2002
STD/Internet ban in Kashmir in its fourth month STD/Internet ban in Kashmir in its fourth month STD/Inter

STD/Internet ban in Kashmir in its fourth month STD/Internet ban in Kashmir in its fourth month STD/Internet ban in Kashmir in its fourth month

 

The withdrawal of these facilities have badly affected the economy of the state besides causing enormous problems to the people in general and the media related professional in particular

 

There are still no signs of withdrawal of the ban on STD/ ISD and Internet facilities in Jammu and Kashmir state which was ordered on January 1 this year. The government is reported to have decided to not to discuss the issue at least for a couple of months.

The ban on the facilities which were being used in the state in every nook and corner came after an eyeball to eyeball confrontation between the armies of India and Pakistan on the borders. It was a clear signal that the two neighbours may go for a full fledged war and the snapping of communication lines was seen as part of preparedness for the same. Though the tension along the borders both International Border and Line of Control (LoC) has since eased the people in the state continue to pay the price for no fault of theirs. It was part of the government’s harsh measures to force Pakistan on the issue of terrorism after the attack on Parliament on December 13.

The withdrawal of such facilities have badly affected the economy of the state besides causing enormous problems to people in general and the media related professional in particular. On this front all has come to a standstill. Cyber café’s have downed their shutters, the Public Call Office (PCO) owners have been suffering a lot in some cases leading to starvation. "We are in a quandary" said Mushtaq Ahmed a PCO owner adding that no clear-cut decision is being taken in this regard. If they have to put the ban forever we could think about some other trade, he said.

The withdrawal of facility has adversely hit the tourism particularly in Jammu region. Chairman Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ram Sahai also confirms that absence of STD facilities has contributed a lot in decreasing number of the pilgrims to Vaishnodevi. Even as the STD facility is available to individual telephones, the business community has been facing lot of problems on account of the ban.

For media community also the ban on STD/ISD and Internet has come as a great source of inconvenience. In the modern day jornalism, the use of internet has become an inseparable part of a journalist’s work. This facility not only helps in quick transmission of the news to their respective organizations but also provides an opportunity to monitor the happenings worldwide. "This is a big shock government gave to us on the eve of new year" said Zahoor Ahmed a senior journalist. I do not understand what kind of integration the government of India is talking, was the question by A A Fayaz another senior journalist. The media community believes that government is lacking a decision on Kashmir in every respect, otherwise they would not add to the sufferings of Kashmiris by snapping the communication link to them.

Now Internet access at home is only available to a few people who have Delhi accounts and they access via Delhi on STD rates. In some cases one or two cafes also access via Delhi and charge exhorbitant rates.

Even as the Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and also Union Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah had promised to protest againt the decision and ask the government of India to review the ban, nothing has come as yet. Sources in the government say that at a certain level thinking had started changing but Intelligence agencies have again put hurdles saying that ban

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