Mufti makes first mobile phone call to PM
20 August 2003
Our Staff Reporter
Jammu: The much-awaited mobile telephony was launched in Jammu and Kashmir this evening with the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, making the historic call to the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, from his official chamber. Mr. Sayeed, sitting along with his Cabinet colleagues, called up Mr. Vajpayee and thanked him for keeping his promise to start mobile services in the State. Also present were the National Conference president, Omar Abdullah, the BSNL Chairman-cum-Director, P.P. Singh, the Chief Manager, BSNL (J&K), Arun Kumar, and senior officials. Sharp at 5 p.m., the Union Minister of State for Communications and IT, Ashok Pradhan, who specially flew in for the occasion, presented a cell phone to Mr. Sayeed and dialled the number of the Prime Minister, who was waiting for the call. Expressing optimism that the step would help strengthen the peace process, Mr. Sayeed said mobile telephony was bound to give a fillip to trade and tourism. ' Der aaye drust aaye , (better late than never )', he said. Mr. Vajpayee in his inimitable style said, 'cell phone service is no longer a luxury or a preserve of rich but a channel for meeting of hearts'. The Centre was making strenuous efforts to improve connectivity with the State, be it in telecommunications or in road and rail services. He mentioned the large crowds outside BSNL counters in Jammu and Srinagar. Seeking Mr. Vajpayee's help for extending the facility to other towns in the State, Mr. Sayeed sought early sanction of community information centres on the pattern of the northeast. The programme would be useful in Jammu and Kashmir and hopefully there would be no hitch after the launch of mobile phone service, he said. He reminded the Union Communications Minister, Arun Shourie, of his promise to hold an IT conference in Srinagar. Quick to respond, Mr. Shourie said a conference would be held soon. Mr. Shourie said that 12 district headquarters would be covered by mobile telephony by the end of the current financial year. Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Sayeed lauded the BSNL's efforts in this regard. Talking to The Hindu , Mr. Arun Kumar said, 'the mobile phone service was already functional in the State, being used by BSNL staff. Now, the services have been thrown open for the general public.' He said BSNL counters issuing application forms continued to be swamped by people with the demand outstripping the supply.