Srinagar Ground Report: Waiting 4 Hours for a 4-Second Phone Call

Srinagar Ground Report: Waiting 4 Hours for a 4-Second Phone Call

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Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj and Abhishek Sharma

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Ahead of the abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August, all means of communication were severed in Jammu and Kashmir. In very little time, the erstwhile state was practically cut off from the outside world. Four days later, the government started helpline numbers for the residents of the Valley to be able to get in touch with their kin living outside Jammu and Kashmir.

In the eighth ground report from Srinagar, we show you how the desperate residents of the region wait in long queues for several hours just to speak to their loved ones for a paltry four seconds.

The Quint’s Shadab Moizee reached the office of Srinagar’s Deputy Commissioner, where one phone is available for the hundreds of people trying to establish contact with their relatives who live outside Kashmir.

“My brother stays outside. I need to speak to him. I have not been able to get in touch with him since Sunday. He must be worried about our well-being. We are worried about him too.”
Mudassir, Resident, Srinagar

Mudassir is not alone. There are hundreds like him who want to speak to their loved ones and inquire into their well-being and assure them of theirs, too.

We have not been able to get in touch with them (our children) for 5 straight days now. We have no information about their well-being and neither do they. We want to speak to them and let them know that we are fine.     
Barkat Ali, Resident, Srinagar

Residents of the Valley have been waiting quite desperately to hear the voices of their loved ones. Helpless and left with little choice, they are forced to wait in long queues for several hours to be able to speak to their relatives outside for just a few seconds.

We came here at 7 am. It has been 3 hours already. We have to wait this long for just one phone call. Even then, we are allowed to speak only for 4 seconds. What will we say in 4 seconds? We want to know if they are all right. We want to ask them if they have enough money. What will we say in 4 seconds? Providing helpline numbers is a mere formality on the government’s part.
Preet, Resident, Srinagar

Before the long wait outside the DC’s office, residents from remote areas like Chhatabal have to go through the ordeal of cross-questioning and showing their ID cards at every check-point in order to reach the DC’s office.

(This video was recorded on 9 August 2019)

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