Srinagar For more than 15 days, mobile internet has been suspended for hours in parts of Srinagar, disrupting work and business. According to locals, the old city of Srinagar has been the hardest hit and the crisis started after 11 civilian killings by suspected militants in October in Srinagar and South Kashmir districts. Even broadband internet speed has slowed down, residents claim.
“It’s like the authorities are rationing the mobile internet, like handing out government rice. There has been no mobile internet every day for two weeks from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.,” said Sajid Ahmad, 38, a resident of Rainawari. “I also have a fiber optic connection whose speed has drastically decreased. When we played against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup match, the internet was restored even later than midnight,” he said.
Ahmad said he works from home for a private company located outside the valley and that his job was suffering. “My mail hardly loads and I have to do my official work via Whatsapp at strange times. It’s so embarrassing and also affects someone’s assessment,” he said, adding that students are also suffering, with some even shifting to areas where mobile internet is normal.
Besides Rainawari, areas in the heart of the old town, such as Nawhatta, complain about no service during the day. A retailer of Nawhatta, which provides online charging and billing services, said his business was affected by the internet ban.
“The internet is cut every day from 7am to 11:30am and then again from 3:30pm to 10:45pm. We don’t know how they do it, but it affects not only us, but even students who are unable to attend classes online. My business is down 70%,” said the shopkeeper, who declined to be named.
A field employee from the energy department said he was suffering from a lack of mobile internet in much of the old city stretching from Makhdoom Sahib to Khanyar and Bohri Kadal, extending as far as the Eidgah belt. “No internet causes a lot of communication problems while routine shutdown and resumption of power grids and stations,” he said. Rafiq Ahmad, a resident of Khushal Sar, also complained about the unreliable internet.
Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Aijaz Asad said: “You need to talk to telecom companies or security people. Nobody has brought it to my attention until now.”
Kashmir’s Departmental Commissioner Pandurang K Pole said he was not at the headquarters. IGP Vijay Kumar did not respond to a call from HT. However, the IGP acknowledged the internet suspension of “some towers” in a tweet on October 21. His tweet read: “The confiscation of some bicycles and internet shutdown of some towers is purely related to terror violence. It has nothing to do with the visit of the Honorable HM (Home Secretary),” he said. The Union Minister of the Interior had visited on 23 October.