Kashmir Indepth

Communication Gag: People to pay bills for ‘dead phones’ in Kashmir

Srinagar Sep 10 : In a major irritating move by the major telecommunication company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), there is no plan to waive off the monthly mobile bills for the subscribers using the services of the company. Senior officials revealed to wire service— that BSNL has approximately 40 per cent subscriber base in the Valley and barring top police officials and officials from the administration, common people have “dead phones in their hands.”

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Kashmir valley continued to observe shutdown for the 36th straight day amidst the ongoing cellular and internet gag in the region. The authorities at BSNL telecom services ruled out any kind of waiver to its users in their billing plans.

As the clampdown of the cellular services continued to remain in place for more than a month of now, while as the restoration of landline services could not ease the gag due to the limited number of users in the valley. The BSNL authorities suspended their services throughout the Jammu and Kashmir region in the wake of abrogation of the Article 370 and bifurcation of the J&K state into two union territories by the Parliament on Aug 05, 2019. The suspension of the services was considered on the directions of the Government citing the law and order situation in the region.

Muhammad Ashraf, a BSNL landline user told wire services— that, “ I came here to pay the bill of my landline which is barred to make outgoing calls due to the non-payment of the previous bill. The billing agent rejected any sort of waiver on my billing plan during the period of the suspension of the services in the region.”

He told the wire services that he was left out with no option other than to clear his outstanding bill so that he could avail the services to get in touch with few of his relatives and friends having the same landline services.

Ashraf further told the wire services, “The state administration should intervene in this matter as it’s completely unjustified to get charged for the services which were on suspension.”

Anand Kumar (name changed) a senior employee at BSNL center at Exchange Road, Srinagar told the wire services,” The billing of the customers is based on the automated system which cannot be manipulated by any of the official here. The grant of waiver is always taken up by the higher authorities of BSNL and once they approve it automatically reflect on our billing systems accordingly.”

He told the wire services that the suspension of the services was not because of the technical fault of BSNL services but in-fact it was ordered by the Government under whose guidelines BSNL and other telecom services operate.

Reyaz Ahmed, a BSNL subscriber told wire service – that what is the fun of having a connection that has no network. “Isn’t it an injustice to pay the bill when we didn’t use the services at all for almost over a month,” he said as many of his friends echoed similar views. (KNO)

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