As Kashmiris celebrate restoration of their post-paid mobile connections after 70 days Monday, service providers are having the last laugh, charging subscribers even for the period when services were suspended in the valley.
The recharge packs credited by subscribers to their phones have been ‘exhausted’ though nobody could use them in the clampdown period from 5 Aug till 13 Oct.
To add to their woes, SMS services and internet facilities continue to remain suspended.
“Worse is that no vendor is able to accept rent or recharge packs in the valley as their internet connections are also not working,” said Manzoor Ahmed, a teacher in Srinagar.
“The only places where you can pay your rent or get your phones recharged are the main offices of the service providers where hundreds of people are lined up,” he said. Ahmed also had to skip school to queue up for his mobile phone payment.
To add insult to the subscribers’ injury, recharges done by relatives and friends for the mobile phones are not being accepted, nor are the payers getting refunds if these payments were made outside Jammu & Kashmir.
“It is a novel method of cyber loot,” said Suhail Ahmed, an advocate. “I asked a friend of mine in Delhi to pay for a Rs399($5.58) recharge pack for my mobile phone through his internet connection.
“He made the payment, but I did not get any credit and my outgoing facility was not restored. I contacted a senior executive of the company in Srinagar and to my surprise he told me that rent and recharges made outside Jammu & Kashmir are not accepted and the amount thus paid would not be refunded.”
Despite the callousness of the service providers, locals are celebrating the limited restoration of mobile phone services. “It is a service all of us pay for and yet we are behaving as if it is a largesse that service providers are affording to us,” remarked Parvez, a local journalist. “Doesn’t the last laugh belong to the service provider even if we continue to chirp the moment our mobile phone rings?.”