The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mad rush for mobiles in Valley

Srinagar, Aug. 18: The long wait for mobile telephony in Kashmir is finally over with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited issuing application forms for a target 13,000 phone connections in the first phase.

BSNL chief general manager (Jammu and Kashmir) Arun Kumar said 17,000 forms were distributed in Jammu on the first day today and 3,000 in Srinagar.

“People had lined up early this morning outside our main building. On the first day we issued 3,000 forms. Because of the demand we are shifting the venue (of the distribution of forms) to Bakshi Stadium tomorrow,” said a BSNL official here.

Young men formed the bulk of those waiting for application forms.

CRPF and traffic police personnel had a tough task. In Srinagar, the mad rush to the BSNL office in the heart of the city led to frequent traffic jams, forcing authorities to divert traffic. CRPF personnel were busy trying to maintain order at the BSNL office, reports PTI.

The Valley had remained cut off from mobile services. On Independence Day Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the extension of the facility to Jammu and Kashmir.

“One needs to remain in touch with each other in this valley in view of the prevailing situation. I had applied for a landline two years ago, but area feasibility is a problem. Now I think mobile phones will help us stay in touch,” said Mehmooda Begum, who was waiting for an application form.

Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who has hailed the Prime Minister’s announcement, has expressed the hope of launching the facility himself during his visit to the Valley on August 27.

“It was a case of discrimination against the people of Jammu and Kashmir and it is good that the Prime Minister has personally intervened to remove the irritant,” the chief minister said.

“I have come here early to get the form. I will fill it up as the BSNL is issuing only 13,000 connections in the first phase. We were, for no reason, denied this facility which has proved useful to people all over the world,” claimed Irshad Ahmad.

“I am a businessman and have to always contact people outside. Mobile phones will help me a lot,” said Ahmad.

BSNL says the facility will be extended to other districts of the Kashmir valley and the Jammu region.

The entire Jammu-Srinagar National Highway will also be covered.

However, Arun Kumar clarified the “cellphones will not work in areas falling within 10 km of the border”.

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