India to restore post-paid cellphone connections in Kashmir
NEW DELHI (AP) — Around 4 million post-paid cellphone connections will be restored in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday, more than two months after New Delhi downgraded the region’s semi-autonomy and imposed a security and communications lockdown, an official said Saturday.
Rohit Kansal, a government spokesman, said that internet services will remain suspended for now. Authorities fear that insurgents and separatists will use the internet to provoke anti-India protests in the region.
Kansal told reporters that more than 2 million prepaid cellphones will not be reactivated immediately. Landline phones were restored in the region last month.
Tensions in Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India but claimed by both in its entirety, have escalated since early August, when India downgraded the semi-autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir and imposed the lockdown.
Facing international pressure to ease people’s suffering and restore normal life, Indian authorities announced this past week that they would allow tourists back into the region after ordering them to leave in August because of security concerns.
“The government urges businessmen, industrialists, traders, transporters, shopkeepers, hoteliers and contractors not to be frightened by any threats by terrorists and separatists and go about their normal activities,” Kansal said Saturday in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Authorities also released three low-ranking politicians in the region earlier in the week. However, prominent Kashmiri politicians, including some who have historically accepted India’s sovereignty over the disputed Muslim-majority region, remain detained in their own homes or in jails.
Schools have reopened in the region, but attendance has been very poor.