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Remote J&K border villages echo with cellphone rings

01:13 AM Jan 20, 2021 | Agencies

Sumir Kaul

Kupwara

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Two decades after the launch of mobile telephony in J&K, cell towers have been erected in 3 remote villages in Kupwara district giving cellular connectivity and hope for a better future to about 10,000 locals. The 3 villages — Machil, Dudi and Posh Wari — are located 100 to 160 kms from Srinagar, the summer capital of the UT, which got mobile connectivity in 2000.

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But as these villages are in close proximity to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and often witness unprovoked shelling from across the border and infiltration, the task became tougher for the district administration that had to get a lot of clearances, especially from the army, to provide cellular services. Machil, Dudi and Posh Wari are located within an aerial distance of between 8 and 12 kms from the LoC.

While Kupwara Deputy Commissioner (DC) Anshul Garg had been engaging with multiple departments to get the clearances, the ambitious plan gathered pace when L-G Manoj Sinha visited Machil in last October. He directed installation of mobile phone towers in the area to provide connectivity to the residents.

"That really gave it a major push. Talks with telecom provider Airtel were on and finally the process of connecting the remote villages was put on a mission mode. Anything and everything was pressed into service because our working window due to winters was also drawing to a close," said Garg ,32.

Jamal Sheikh, a former sarpanch of Dudi village, said "Ab hum shayad bina ilaaj ke nahi marenge (maybe now we will not die due to lack of medical care)".

Speaking to PTI over phone, Sheikh recalled many patients had to suffer because one had to trek either 20 kms to Machil to make a STD call to seek medical help or 15 kms for a PCO at Z-Mod in the district. "I am thankful to DC saheb that finally this technology has come to our place," said Sheikh, who runs a medical shop in the village, 70 kms from Kupwara town.

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