India restores incoming SMS in occupied Kashmir, internet still cut
SRINAGAR: India on Tuesday allowed some incoming text messages into occupied Kashmir, said officials, four months after they were first blocked when New Delhi moved to revoke the region’s autonomy.
The August 5 communications blackout that cut landlines, mobile phones and internet access, badly affected locals and businesses especially as texts are an important part of banking processes.
Officials in Delhi said millions in the Himalayan region will be able to receive messages starting Wednesday, including one-time passwords from financial institutions.
They will still be unable to send messages, the officials said. Passwords sent by SMS are widely used for many online puchases and financial transactions in the Himalayan region.
Companies and customers had complained the lockdown meant they were suddenly unable to conduct simple, day-to-day transactions.
Kashmiris said they had to resort to calling relatives or friends outside the valley — home to more than seven million — after phone lines were gradually restored, to help them make purchases and other transactions.
Text messaging services were restored in October along with phone lines but suspended again by authorities a few hours later after a truck driver was killed. His vehicle was set on fire.
Indian security sources said then that the decision to cut the messaging services was taken to lessen communication between militants.
Users at the moment cannot access app-based messaging platforms as mobile internet services remain blocked.