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BSNL starts issuing mobile phone forms for J&K

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
August 19, 2003 01:27 IST
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The long wait for mobile telephony in Kashmir is over with BSNL issuing forms for 13,000 phone connections in the first phase.

On the first day on Monday 3,000 forms were distributed.

"People had lined up early this morning outside our main building an hour before. On the first day we issued 3,000 forms. Because of the demand we are shifting the venue to Bakshi Stadium tomorrow," said an official of the BSNL.

In view of the prevailing situation the valley had remained off from the mobile service and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the extension of the facility to Jammu and Kashmir on Independence Day.

"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 before. But area feasibility is a problem. Now I think mobile phone will help us to remain in touch," said Mehmooda Begum waiting for the form.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who has hailed Vajpayee's announcement of extending the facility, has expressed the hope that he will launch the facility himself during his valley visit on August 27.

"It was a case of discrimination with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and it is good the prime minister has personally intervened to remove the discrimination and irritant," Sayeed said.

"I have come here early to get the form. I will fill it up as BSNL is issuing only 13000 connections in the first phase. I am a businessman and have to always contact people outside. A mobile phone will help me a lot," said Irshad Ahmad.

BSNL said the facility will be extended to other districts of valley and Jammu region. The entire Jammu-Srinagar national highway will be covered along with Srinagar, Jammu and Katra.

"The cell phones will not work in areas falling within ten kilometers from the border," BSNL's chief general manager Arun Kumar said.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar