Despite Internet Ban, GPRS Subscribers forced to pay hefty bills

The internet services and mobile internet is banned in the Valley since Kashmir witnessed a new phase of uprising in the aftermath of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani on July 8.

Internet consumers in Kashmir are facing a double edged sword: one they are not being provided the services which they subscribe to and second they have to shell out hefty amount as charges for these services to keep their mobile phone connection running.
Postpaid cellular services subscribers here are saying that operators in Kashmir are charging monthly bills for internet services, which have been snapped from last two months and incase they fail to pay these bills, there postpaid cell phone connection are disconnected.

The internet services and mobile internet is banned in the Valley since Kashmir witnessed a new phase of uprising in the aftermath of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani on July 8.
With the ban on outgoing calls on prepaid cell phones, the consumers say they are forced to pay the over charged bills to keep their postpaid phones running, as otherwise they will get deprived of the only means of communication left with them.
“These cellular companies are blackmailing us, as they know that we cannot afford our connection to be disconnected this time as there are very fewer postpaid consumers, therefore, they force us to pay,” said Fayaz Ahmad Mir of Azad Basti, Natipora here.

However, these cellular companies argue that it is not their decision to stop the services rather they are purely following government orders.
The mobile internet ban has put lot of people to inconvenience and business losses.
“It is for the second month I have received bill for internet services which I never used since last two months,” said Imran Ahmad, a Vodafone subscriber.
He said that each month he used to receive Rs 547 bill which included internet usage charges. “However for past two months I have been receiving bills amounting to Rs 599 a month which is not only unjustified but simply cheating as the company is charging even for the services which it is not providing,” he said.
Similarly post-paid subscribers of other networks such as BSNL, Airtel, Idea, Vodafone, Reliance, Aircel are complaining about the same thing stating that the cellular companies are earning out of miseries of the Kashmiri people.
“You cannot charge for services you won’t provide,” Bashir Ahmad Airtel subscriber said adding that the authorities, who banned these services should step in and ask the companies how they are charging.
“I am paying for the monthly internet rental charges despite the fact services are barred,” he said adding that it is the moral responsibility of these companies to deduct the charges of services which they don’t provide.
Meanwhile, the opposition party National Conference has also castigated cellular companies for charging for internet services even without providing them.
Provincial President, Youth National Conference, Ajaz Jan in a statement had said since last more than one month, mobile internet services stand snapped in the state which has put people especially the students to great trouble.
“People are paying for mobile data rental plan without using the same due to ban and the state government should clarify that who will pay the money of these mobile net packs as people are not able to use them?” Jan said, adding that the ban on mobile internet in Rajouri and Poonch “is unwarranted and out of context as situation is fully normal there.”
“Majority of the works are now done on internet but in Rajouri and Poonch people are feeling helpless as mobile internet services are banned and Broadband services remain disturbed most of the times,” Jan said.
Executives of these cellular companies argue that these bills are auto generated, therefore they cannot deduct the charges. “Once the situation improves the companies will jointly take call on this issue,” said a senior executive of a cellular company, who wish not to be named as he is not authorized to speak on the issue.

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