As Public Phones Open In J&K, Residents Queue Up To Connect With Families

The makeshift PCO owners say more such booths might come up in Srinaga if the government doesn't restore mobile phone services.

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As Public Phones Open In J&K, Residents Queue Up To Connect With Families

People gather to make calls at a makeshift phone booth in Srinagar. (AFP)


Srinagar: 

Hundreds of people in Srinagar are queuing up to use public landlines to get in touch with their loved ones. Several Makeshift Public Call Offices (PCOs) have come up in different localities where landline telephone facilities have been restored.

The government had snapped telephone and internet services in Jammu and Kashmir hours before Home Minister Amit Shah announced the Centre's decision to strip the state's decades-old autonomy.

Mohammad Saleem (name changed) had several of relatives and neighbours visiting his house to speak to their loved ones in other parts of the country "It became difficult to manage the huge rush and sometimes led to acrimony between the visitors as well. So I thought of turning my landline into a paid service," he said.

Khursheed Ahmad, 55, came all the way from his Lal Bazaar residence to Jawahar Nagar area to call his son, who is working in Bengaluru.

"I have had no contact with my son since August 5, when curfew was imposed across Kashmir and all means of communication were snapped. So I came here to make a call to him," he said.

The businessman, who has two landlines at his residence, feels the government should open PCOs in all parts of the city where telephones have not been restored so far.

The government is providing free telephone facilities at all police stations to help the people contact their kin elsewhere in the country.

"Women are not comfortable going to a police station to make calls. Moreover, there are hundreds of people waiting there.... I feel more comfortable here, even though I have to travel almost 10 km," said Sakeena whose daughter studies in Rajasthan.

The makeshift PCO owners believe that more such outlets might come up in the city if the government continues with suspension of mobile phone services in the valley.

State-owned BSNL said they have received hundreds of applications for fresh landline connections at each functional exchange in the city.

"We are looking into the feasibility issues and will give out connections wherever possible," an official of the state-owned Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) said.



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