Pre-Paid Ban’s Post Paid Bill

There is no denying the fact that the security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir are facing tough times in the recent past. The militants have metamorphosis from being dormant to working like Trojans. In this respect the security agencies are justified in using methods that can forestall militant activity by restricting their tools of operation. Mobile telephony was introduced in the valley in 2003 and since then private players like Airtel, Aircel, Idea, Reliance and Vodafone have entered the lucrative market. The present strength of the pre-paid customers in the state is 38 lakhs. From 1st November 2009 these subscribers will have to find pigeons to connect with their friends and relatives as all these connections are now for the birds.

The ban on pre-paid connections will have different connotations in the two ideologically antithesis regions of the state (Jammu and Kashmir). Whereas in Jammu it will be seen as infringement of the basic rights of a citizen, in the paranoid region of Kashmir it will be seen, as just another way of making the already troubled people, frail in their struggle for freedom and survival. India since 1947 hasn’t been able to develop a relationship of trust with the people of Kashmir even after spending truckloads of aids and economic packages. The relationship status with India has transmogrified since 1947 from an aversion for the political system of India to a strong loathing for the entire social and political system of India. This transformation will keep flowing in the same direction if policies such as the pre-paid ban are implemented without analysing their effects on the already dilapidated relations with Kashmir.

Poverty is the mother of all arts.

The intent of the Indian home ministry, headed by, the Thiruvalluvar inspired Mr Chidambaram, is bound to lead into the blind alley as according to recent statements by security agencies, the militants are equipped with sophisticated GPS and other positioning and communicating devices which eliminate their sole dependence on pre-paid connections. The negligence on the part of the home ministry about the options available with the militants for communication shows the haste with which such policies are developed and implemented. A few days ago former Chief Minister of J&K, Dr Farooq Abdullah while speaking on a TV news channel highlighted the difficulties faced by Kashmiris in India; be it accommodation, business, admissions etc. In the light of these facts what results other than the augmentation in the state of justified paranoia of Kashmiris and their loathing for the political system of India

On the economic front around 400 customer touch points, 350 distributors and around 48,000 retail outlets across the state, apart from the innumerable number of mobile selling and repair shops. The home ministry’s decision is likely to affect everyone linked to these businesses. With the unemployment rate increasing, this ban is going to incite apoplectic furies from those connected with this business. In the already murky relationships this ban will be seen as a step in the wrong direction by the central government and the ramifications will have to be avowed by the honourable Home Minister.

I deliberated with my friends at length over this matter that has hogged the headlines for quite some time now and the opinions varied from libertarian to authoritarian. Finally I arrived at a very simple solution to this political imbroglio that can become ugly anytime as we have seen in the recent past, especially during the Amarnath Land transfer case. Although my idea will appear to oscillate between naivety and novelty but the problem requires such action. Let the 38 lakh customers have their documents and person verified by a department set-up by the security agencies; this can be done by setting up temporary offices in village schools or other public buildings and the pre-paid customers can easily submit their documents with the nearest office. As far as new connections are concerned, a final security check of the documents and the person by the local police authorities can be done by setting up, say a Telecom Security Team in collaboration with the central security agencies. This process appears quixotic but a bound and determined effort from all the parties involved, I firmly believe would help in dredging the suspicious connections.

Yasir Yousuf Bhat

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