The government has also set up an Internet facilitation centre for mediapersons in Srinagar.
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir authorities on Tuesday announced the restoration of Internet service through fixed broadband lines in all government-run hospitals and the Short-Messaging-Service (SMS) facility on all mobile phones in Kashmir from December 31 midnight. Some officials termed it as a “New Year gift” to the people of the Valley.
Rohit Kansal, the spokesman of the J&K government, told the media in Jammu, the winter capital, that the process had started on December 10 when some SMS services were enabled on mobile phones to facilitate students, scholarship applicants, traders and others. They still could not send messages but could rece-ive one-time passwords from machine-based connections like banks. “It has now been decided to fully restore SMS services throughout Kashmir from the midnight of December 31”, he said.
The spokesman did not say when Internet services will be restored across board in the Valley, but said around 600,000 persons like students, tour operators,
businessmen and contractors were facilitated at 900 Internet touch points set up by the government at various places in each district headquarters in the Valley. The government has also set up an Internet facilitation centre for mediapersons in Srinagar.
The government had as part of tough measures enforced a complete communications blackout across J&K the night before the state was stripped of its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and split into two Union territories on August 5.
However, landline phone services were restored, first in Jammu and then in the Valley, in a phased manner weeks after these fell silent. Mobile Internet services made available to subscribers in Jammu on August 18 were withdrawn again the next day allegedly after it was “misused” by some people, mainly through the social media. However, broadband services on fixed landline phones had begun working again in Jammu region earlier.
In the Valley, hours after post-paid mobile services were restored on October 14, the government ordered withdrawal of SMS facility on these without giving any reason. Prepaid mobile phone services remain suspended in the Valley. Internet services on mobile phones was restored in Ladakh’s Kargil district last week, while the landlocked region’s Leh district was spared the communications blockade on August 4.
Mr Kansal also announced the government’s decision that toll tax will be abolished in J&K at Lakhanpur, the entry point to the UT from Punjab, and all other posts, including railway stations and airports, from January 1, 2020. He said with the imposition of GST, the country has moved towards one nation-one market or a one-tax regime and that after GST, all barriers to entry and tariff-based barriers have been removed.