Srinagar, Jan 02 (KMS): People in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir woke up to a disappointing New Year’s morning when they found that contrary to pledges, SMS service had not been fully restored to all cellphone networks.
On Tuesday evening, Indian government’s spokesman Rohit Kansal told reporters that as of midnight SMS service would be restored and internet would start working in all government hospitals.
But SMSs were only working on the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and Jio networks, and messages could not be sent outside the region.
The shortcomings made a New Year’s gift into “a joke,” said Ishtiaq Ahamd, who owns a shop in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital.
Officials of three government hospitals — Bone and Joint Hospital, SMHS Hospital, and Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital — told Anadolu Agency that Internet had not been restored by 1 p.m. local time (0730GMT). They requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
A doctor at the largest maternity hospital, Lal Ded Hospital, said on the condition of anonymity that the internet was not working there either.
Hours before stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy on Aug. 5, the Indian government shut phone and internet services to the 12 million people of the region — the world’s longest internet shutdown in a democracy, according to Access Now, an international NGO advocating for open internet access.
The communications blockade has been lifted at intervals partially or fully during the past five months in several areas. But Kashmir Valley is still without prepaid phone, broadband, and mobile internet services.
SMS service was briefly restored along with postpaid mobile phones on Oct. 14 but closed again after a few hours, with the government saying the service was misused for subversive activities.
The government had opened internet kiosks at several government offices so that students could fill out exam forms and people could book air tickets besides other chores that need the internet.

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