Mobile Connections Restored
SRINAGAR: Mobile telephony is slowly limping back to 'normalcy' in Kashmir Valley with a majority of transmission towers, shut after a series of attacks by unknown gunmen, resuming services Thursday following assurances by the state government.
Two days after the chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed directed the Jammu and Kashmir Police to provide security to vulnerable towers, a senior state government official said 750 out of 1058 affected towers were restored across the Valley and the remaining towers will be made operational soon.
"The process of bringing normalcy in the telecom sector has started. We are hopeful to restore the services by the end of this week. In case of towers which fall in vulnerable places, like Sopore, we have offered to provide security," a senior official in J&K's home department said.
A team of union home ministry headed by joint secretary (Kashmir), Rajit Punhani, arrived in the Valley on Wednesday to review the security situation arising after a series of attacks on mobile installations left two persons dead and five injured. The team will make on-the-spot assessment and submit its report to the Home Ministry as well as the Prime Minister's Office.
Officials said that out of 2,903 towers of six telecom companies across Kashmir Valley, 1,058 towers were shut due to attacks and threats by an little known outfit, Lashkar-e-Islam. Sopore was the worst-hit area where 175 of 177 towers were shut. "So far, 59 towers, mostly hub sites and those located close to security forces camps and police stations, have been restored in Sopore," the official said.
In the adjoining Baramulla, 132 of the 185 affected towers were restored while in the summer capital Srinagar, with a tower strength of 714, 91 of the 141 affected towers have been restored. Officials said more than 90 percent towers have been restored in south Kashmir's Anantnag and Pulwama and north Kashmir's Kupwara.
The chief minister Tuesday held a review meeting with senior civil and police officers to discuss the situation arising out of the attacks which had crippled mobile telephony in the state.
Taking note of the disruption of cellular networks in various parts of the Valley, Mufti said mobile and internet services have become integral to modern-day functioning in government and others sectors.
All the mainstream political parties as well as Hurriyat had condemned the attacks with former chief minister Omar Abdullah training guns at Mufti for failing to "reassure" the people in the Valley.
Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Geelani has blamed the attacks on "security agencies", saying the group, Lashkar-e-Islam, is a creation of union home ministry to "defame the freedom struggle of people of Jammu and Kashmir."
In an advisory, the Home Ministry had asked Jammu and Kashmir government to urgently review the security situation in the wake several attacks on mobile towers and killing of people connected with the communication networks.
"Urgent review may be undertaken to assess the extent of the threat and its fallout. Suitable counter measures, including security cover wherever necessary, may be put in place urgently to prevent recurrence of such incidents and to ensure smooth functioning of the communication infrastructure," the Home Ministry told the state government.