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Rally held against suspension of Internet, mobile telephony along LoC in PaK

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Muzaffarabad, Mar 18: A group of students and civil society activists of different areas along the restive Line of Control staged a demonstration here on Sunday against the suspension of Internet and mobile phone services within 10 kilometres radius of the dividing line and called upon authorities concerned to rid them of this predicament without further ado.

According to them, both services were suspended on Feb 25, a day before Indian jets carried out airstrikes in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The protestors, who assembled at a busy roundabout outside Press Club, were holding a banner which was inscribed with many demands, but they stressed the most upon restoration of Internet and mobile phone services.

Fawad Aslam, a student from Neelum valley, said the suspension had pushed the areas along the LoC back to the Stone Age.

“Neelum district is not an uninhabited area… It’s home to more than 150,000 people, who include students and professionals and it’s unfair to deprive them of this basic necessity,” he said.

“Worst sufferers are we the students who are largely dependent on internet for regular studies, research, admissions, etc., but no one is realising our plight,” he fumed.

He pointed out that those who had moved to different parts of Pakistan and foreign countries in connection with jobs and studies were also badly disturbed by this suspension as they could not contact their relatives in the event of any calamity.

Saeed Akhtar Awan, who belonged to Leepa valley, expressed similar views.

“Our problem is rather worst than other areas along the LoC, because the road leading to Leepa valley is closed for the past several months due to heavy snow and all of us who are away from homes have no means to know about the well-being of our near and dear ones,” he said.

Another demonstrator, who belonged to Sehra village in Battal sector of Poonch district, said almost every household in his area had one or two members working abroad.

“Obviously everyone of them wants to stay in touch with their families affected by Indian shelling, but the suspension has blocked communication between them,” he said.

Moeen Bukhari, a resident from Tatta Pani sector of Kotli district, said while the Indian shelling was already enough to torment them, suspension of Internet and mobile phones services had compounded their miseries.

While condemning Indian shelling and calling for establishment of peace, they urged authorities concerned in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad to review their decision regarding suspension of Internet and mobile phone services on humanitarian grounds.

They also called upon the international community to intervene in Kashmir to get the longstanding issue resolved, as non-settlement had made the lives of Kashmiris on both sides of the divide a living hell.

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