7 hurt in Srinagar grenade blast, hours after J&K decides to restore postpaid mobile phones

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Shafaqna Pakistan:Hours after the Jammu and Kashmir administration announced that postpaid mobile services will be restored in the region from Monday, a grenade blast was reported at Jehangir Chowk area in Srinagar around 2.45 pm Saturday. Police sources have informed that seven civilians, including a woman, were injured in the incident, which is believed to have been carried out by suspected militants.

“We have initiated a probe into the blast. There is a suspicion that the attack might be connected to the announcement of restoring postpaid mobile services which was made at 12 pm. Militant attacks need more planning. So, it is very likely that the blast was a coincidence,” a senior police officer told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity.

The J&K administration’s decision to resume postpaid mobile services, officials said, was made after reviewing the law-and-order situation in the region. Government spokesperson and senior IAS officer Rohit Kansal announced the decision at a press conference in Srinagar.

“All postpaid mobile phones, irrespective of the telecom service providers, will stand restored and be functional from 12 noon Monday, 14 October 2019. This will cover all 10 districts of Kashmir province. With this step, tourists will be able to visit the state without being handicapped by the lack of phone connectivity, students can be in touch with parents…businessmen can be in touch with customers, transporters can contact clients and contractors can be in touch with staff,” he said.

The press conference was also attended by Inspector General of Police for Kashmir S.P. Pani, Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir Basheer Khan, and Director of Information & Public Relations, Syed Sehrish Asgar.

There was, however, no word on the restoration of internet services in the Valley. In Jammu and Ladakh, broadband internet service was restored last month.

99% of J&K restriction-free’
Kansal also told the press that the decision to enforce restrictions on communications was taken in anticipation of possible militant attacks.

“The restrictions were imposed so that externally-aided terrorism does not lead to a loss of innocent lives. This is a tribute to both the people of Jammu and Kashmir and to the security forces. It is remarkable given the history of events in 2008, 2010 and 2016,” he said, citing previous incidents of unrest in the Valley where over 300 civilians have been killed during protests.

The IAS officer also said that starting September, most of the restrictions were being gradually removed from J&K. “Barring restrictions in 8-10 areas, others have been completely removed. Over 99 per cent of J&K has no restriction on movement. Telephone lines have also been made fully functional,” Kansal added.