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Security tightened in Jammu and Kashmir

By Onkar Singh in Srinagar
August 26, 2003 00:46 IST
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Following the twin blasts in Mumbai, Jammu and Kashmir Police have decided to strengthen the security cordon in the state in the light of the Inter-State Council Meeting scheduled to be held on August 27 and 28 in Srinagar.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpyee will chair the two day meet -- the first of its kind to be held in Jammu and Kashmir.

Chief ministers of all the states and union territories are expected to take part in the deliberations.

"We are not rattled by the blasts in Mumbai. We are naturally taking steps to tighten the security cordon. Since almost all the chief ministers of India would be here, it is natural for us to take note of any terrorist-linked development in any part of the country," Inspector General of Police K Rajendran told in Srinagar on Monday afternoon.

Lt General (retired) S K Sinha, governor of Jammu and Kashmir and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed are closely monitoring the arrangements.

A senior police official said the cops might have to put on hold the launch of the cell phone services until the conclusion of Vajpayee's three-day visit.

"The last date for the submission of forms for cell phones is August 26. After that we would take one week time to clear names for connections. I guess the cells in the valley would not ring until the first week of September," Rajendran said.

But George Santosh Marshal, general manager telephones, said his department is not going to wait indefinitely to give cell connections to subscribers for lack of police verification.

"We have asked for certain documents like a copy of the election card, passport to be attached along with the application forms so that we could verify the address of the applicant. August 26 is going to be the last date of filing applications. Thereafter we would take two or three days to feed in the information into computers. Then I would be ready for giving 'cell-one' connections to the subscribers who would have to get the handsets from Delhi," Marshal told

More then 28,000 applications had been received in Srinagar alone till August 24. This figure is likely to go up to 40,000 in the next two days.

"I expect about 40,000 people to apply for cell phones in the valley and the same number of people in Jammu. We would draw lots to ensure the distribution of the cell phones are free and fair," he said.

Reyaz Mir, who runs a networking solutions company in the heart of the Srinagar, said that he could not submit his application form due to long queues.

"People have been thronging the telephone office to deposit their forms. The queues in almost all the centres were more than two kilometers long," he said.

But those who are from outside the state and have a private service provider will have to buy a BSNL SIM card if they wish to stay connected

There is no agreement between BSNL and other private cell-phone operators to provide connectivity to their subscribers.

"Why should I give the private cell owners roaming facility from my towers? Journalists and all those who have SIM cards of other companies must switch over to 'cell-one' SIM cards if they want to talk to any part of the country," Marshal said.

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Onkar Singh in Srinagar