Kashmiris finally got to make telephone calls to their family members on Thursday, days after the Indian government suspended all communication in the occupied territory, Indian media reported.
Kashmiris were finally able to connect with their family members staying outside the region after India opened two telephone lines in Srinagar for them to make emergency outstation calls, ThePrint.in reported.
The calls were however allowed only after disclosing to Indian authorities “who they were calling and what their conversation would be”.
“The calls were mostly moderated and operators tried their best to limit the duration of the conversations to about a minute,” ThePrint.in said in a report.
A communications blackout and security clampdown was imposed in occupied Kashmir late Sunday as India prepared to revoke Article 370 which gave the territory special status. By Thursday, Indian security forces also arrested more than 500 people in the region.
“My daughter was supposed to come this week but she hadn’t booked the tickets when communications were blocked. So we kept looking at our door all day to see if she had arrived. We were worried about how she was in Chandigarh or how she will manage to reach home from the airport amid the curfew,” ThePrint.in quoted Fehmeeda, a resident of Hawal in Srinagar, as saying.
“Today, when we called her, she said she will be coming tomorrow. Can you believe that we were able to make the call just in time to know that she is coming? She was planning to come home on foot (from the airport). Now we can try to go to the airport to pick her up,” she said.
‘I told my son not to come home for Eid’
“My husband wanted to call my son in Bengaluru, but I told him that I will go as men are stopped at check points more than women. I walked from Jawahar Nagar and called my son. He wept at first but then I told him not to worry and take care of himself. I told him not to come home for Eid as the situation here is still tense,” ThePrint.in quoted a Kashmiri woman as saying. The woman did not reveal her name but called herself “mouja aakh” — meaning “one of the many mothers”.
According to ThePrint.in’s report, while these people could make calls, there were many others who could not reach the Indian government’s office within the designated time during which Kashmiris were allowed to make the calls — between 10 am and 5 pm.
ThePrint.in’s report talks about a Kashmiri woman Anjum from Srinagar who hasn’t been able to get in touch with her daughters.
A little after 5pm, Anjum drove to the Indian government office, hoping to be able to make a call. She said she was not allowed in.
Asked if the officials will make an exception for late-comers, she was told to come the next day, since there was “no woman official who could do a body check of women wanting to make phone calls”.
Another Kashmiri woman, who did not wish to be named, said she was not allowed to go inside the office and was told this was being done as there was no woman security guard to frisk female visitors in the evening.