phone service kashmir

Pakistani doctors hold placards and shout slogans as they take part in a protest against India, in Karachi on Sept. 5. India's decision in early August to scrap Kashmir's autonomy and impose a ban on phone and internet communications has left the region reeling, cutting off its eight-million-strong population from the outside world. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)

SRINAGAR (AP) — Officials said Sept. 5 they have restored landline telephone service in Indian-administered Kashmir after suspending most communications on Aug. 5, when India’s government downgraded the Muslim-majority region’s autonomy and imposed a strict security lockdown.

The government says it suspended communications across the Kashmir Valley, including the main city of Srinagar, to prevent rumors from spreading after the state was downgraded to two federal districts.

The suspension by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has almost completely isolated people in Indian-ruled Kashmir.

Firdous Ahmad, a Srinagar resident, said the restoration of landline service “definitely brings a sigh of relief” from Kashmiris living under the lockdown.

He said he hoped cellphone and internet data services, which are more widely used, would also be restored soon.

People lined up at offices or homes that have landline telephones to try to contact family and friends after being unable to do so for a month.

But many were unable to get through after repeated attempts.

“Our land lines have been restored but we are still unable to talk to people. It is frustrating. I have been trying to call people since morning but I am not getting through,” said Syed Musahid, a Srinagar resident.

Many Kashmiris living outside the valley also said they were having trouble getting in touch with their families back in Kashmir.

“I kept trying a hundred times to reach my family in Kashmir, and only then did my call go through,” said Bint-e-Ali, a Kashmiri in the Indian city of Bengaluru.

She said she still hasn’t been able to talk to her ailing grandmother in Srinagar.

“I hope I live to tell this horrendous tale to our next generation about how India didn’t even let us talk to our family and friends,” she said.

The Press Trust of India news agency reported there are no longer any restrictions on daytime movements in the Kashmir Valley. However, checkpoints remain in place.

There have been sporadic protests against India’s downgrading of the region’s autonomy that were quelled by security forces who fired pellets and tear gas.

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