Deja vu 90s as Kashmiris throng makeshift phone booths

With mobile phones and internet snapped across the Valley, most Kashmiris have converted their landlines into makeshift phone booths.

Published: 23rd September 2019 05:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd September 2019 05:31 PM   |  A+A-

Grand mosque stands locked during restriction in downtown Srinagar.

Grand mosque stands locked during restriction in downtown Srinagar. (Photo | AP)


SRINAGAR: Faisal Ahmad walked five kilometres from his home in Rainawari in downtown Srinagar to a makeshift telephone booth in the upscale Jawahar Nagar to make a voice call to his brother who works in Qatar.

Faisal says a few PCOs (Public Call Offices) have come up in the old city area following the communication blockade that has been in place since Article 370 was revoked in August, but they lack ISD facility.

Though most landlines across the Valley have been restored, that has not eased the troubles facing people like Faisal.

"I have been trying to call my brother since the morning, but lines are down and I am not able to speak to him," he said. "I will keep trying. It's the second time I have come to this PCO to talk to my brother since August 5," he added

With mobile phones and internet snapped across the Valley, it's deja vu 90s for most Kashmiris, who have converted their landlines into makeshift phone booths.

There are long lines of people outside PCOs, most which have come up in the Civil Lines area of Srinagar. They charge Rs 2 for an STD call, and Rs 20 a minute for an international call.

Younis has also started a makeshift PCO from his consultancy in Lal Mandi. Though his PCO has come as a big relief to people in the vicinity, Younis says business is not the his sole purpose.

"It is also to help people to communicate with their loved ones. There are many people who come to us and don't have money to make phone calls, we understand business activities in Kashmir have stopped, so we don't really force people to pay for making calls," he said.

The government has opened phone facilities in police stations, but people are reluctant to make calls from police stations.

"It is awkward for women to go to a police station for making a phone call, it is any day better to do that from a PCO," said Nahida waiting for her turn at a PCO.

Desperate times do call for desperate measures, but not in a man-made crisis.

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp