1. Jammu and Kashmir is probably the only place on Earth where one cannot send/receive text messages from/on their (pre-paid) cell phones.
2. The ban is in place since June 2010 when the "local administration" banned SMS on the pretext that rumors (read, call for protest gatherings) are circulated over SMS.
3. Later that year, the government lifted the ban from post-paid phones. However, it is on record that such a move benefits only 16% of over 48 lakh mobile customers in the valley. Over 80% of mobile users in Kashmir are pre-paid users.
4. There has been a thaw in major protests (of the nature or scale of 2010 uprising) for about two years now but such "normalcy" has not been reciprocated by the government (by failing to lift the ban).
5. Protests and mischief cannot be engineered over SMS unless there are genuine grievances. Even if that is, indeed, the case, mischief- and rumor- mongers can engineer discontent over Facebook, Twitter, BBM, conventional media or by word-of-mouth alone as was the case before 2004 when mobile phones came to the state. In fact, the police recently summoned admins of some Facebook pages who were trying to allegedly manufacture discontent. But these page owners were unable to create unrest for the simple reason that there were no major grievances or serious human rights violations since 2010.
Moral: If grievances are genuine, protests will occur. If not, protests cannot be manufactured over SMS.
6. The motive behind lifting of SMS ban on post-paid phones is generally seen as discriminatory: most people in Kashmir, due to financial constraints, use pre-paid phones to keep their mobile usage under check. However, the entire government machinery: politicians, bureaucrats, defence personnel, etc. use post-paid phones for reasons of accessibility. The relaxation in SMS ban is designed to benefit the elite and the powerful people alone. Such partiality towards the commoner will, in itself, become the next major cause of discontent if not responded to appropriately.
7. The ban on SMS causes financial loss to telecom operators as well as pre-paid customers who now have to make calls even for short and important messages: these messages can be life-saving at times, more so in a volatile place like Kashmir.
We, the common folk of Kashmir, request the Chief Minister, Mr. Omar Abdullah to lift the ban on text messages with immediate effect.
Shehla Shora started this petition with a single signature, and now has 177 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.