Kargil internet restoration: Locals say ban was discriminatory
After 145 days, mobile internet services have been restored in Kargil.
At noon on Friday, the celluar internet service in the cold desert of Kargil district sprang to life after being defunct for about five months.
The local residents were delighted with the restoration of communication, but said that the protracted internet gag had caused them huge losses and the move was very discriminatory in nature.
On August 4, barely 12 hours before the Centre announced its decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and split into two federally controlled territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh - the authorities cut all communication lines in the Valley, while cellular internet services were snapped in Jammu and the Kargil district of Ladakh.
An official, who declined to be named in this report, said that the internet was resumed in Kargil once it was apparent that full normalcy had returned in the district.
Soon after the internet was restored, people frantically began to frantically check their emails and messages on various social media platforms. Many of the youth had their share of heart-breaks after they found that they had lost various job and scholarship opportunities.
"I had applied for a job with a Mumbai based NGO, but I failed to appear in the interview as I could not receive my online interview letter”, said Syed Sajad Agha, who himself runs a youth empowerment NGO.
Agha said that many of his friends had also lost various opportunities in s similar manner.
Bilal Ahmad, a postgraduate student from the district said that he had applied for an oversees scholarship for higher studies,,but he too could not send across his various documents on time due to the long-drawn-out internet blockade.
Business in Kargil since the August 5 move has been going through a rough patch. Many business men lamented that they suffered huge losses over the past 145 days of the internet black out.
Tourism in the area has remained comparatively low this year, as the hoteliers, local guides and travel agents lost touch with both domestic and international tourists.
"Only today could could I check my email and found that many tourists had sent me mails in the months of August and September requesting for bookings", said a local travel agent in Kargil.
Zaheer Ahmad Bagh, a journalist turned hotelier said that toursim promotions were stymied due to the internet shutdown.
He said that during the peak tourist season they were unable to promote their business on social networking sites like Instagram and Facebook.
"We are receiving 70-80 percent less queries from individuals and groups intending to visit the region as tourists", Bagh added. According to him, it bodes badly for the tourist season next year.
Many in Kargil see the internet gag as sheer discrimination against the area.
They believe that there was no reason to shut the internet in Kargil, as the area was more peaceful than the neighbouring Leh district where the internet was not snapped.
Nasir Hussain, Councillor on the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil, upbraided the government for snapping the internet only in Kargil.
" It was discrimination against Kargil. I don't understand why the government had blocked the internet only in Kargil when the area was more peaceful than Leh", he said.
The internet shut down, both mobile and broadband services, has crossed 145 days in the Valley. Bhartiya Janta Party ( BJP) Genereal Secretary, Ram Madhav held out the hope on Thursday that internet would be restored in a phased manner in Kashmir after a security review.