The Valley may not have got the dry ports as promised by the previous government but Banihal district is becoming the new “port” destination of Kashmir.
As authorities in Kashmir valley barred converting prepaid mobile SIM cards to postpaid cards, hundreds of prepaid cellular subscribers travel to the mountanious Banihal district to port their SIM cards.
The mobile services across J&K was snapped on August 5 midnight ahead of the abrogation of Article 370. However, after more than 70 days, nearly four million postpaid and pre-on-post mobile phones were restored in the Valley but over 20 lakh prepaid phones continue to remain dysfunctional.
For the past month, many prepaid subscribers are traveling to Banihal district, only to port their service provider cards for pre-on-post or postpaid services.
A prepaid service users, Ishtiyaq Ahmad said, “As there is no counter available to convert the pre-paid mobiles into postpaid in the Valley, I traveled from Ompora Budgam to Banihal only to port my prepaid mobile services to postpaid.”
He said the retailers of various cellular service providers in Banihal are charging Rs 150 for porting the service as activation charges.
“Hundreds of users from many districts keep on waiting in long queue to get a One Time Password (OTP) to activate it,” Ishtiyaq said.
He said many locals even miss the train and several have to lodge in a hotel to complete the process of changing their service providers.
Another user, Shabir Ahmad Dar said he skipped his work to port his SIM.
“I am a carpet dealer by profession and I have provided my prepaid mobile number to retailers and my customers. To make my mobile functional, I was compelled to travel to Banihal to port it so that my contact number is preserved,” he said.
Shabir said his work was dependent on phone.
“I export carpets to many retailers outside J&K, and whatever they need, they order it over phone,” he said.
Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir told Rising Kashmir that it was upto the Home department to take a call on such matters.