Andrew Buncombe: A sure way to lose hearts and minds

Kashmir Notebook: Te central Government recently banned pre-paid mobile phone connections in the state

Why, one wonders, if the Indian Government wants to win over the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir, does it act without bothering properly to think? In what the authorities in Delhi said was a move to hamper the activities of separatist militants still active here, the central Government recently banned pre-paid mobile phone connections in the state. The reckoning was that militants were using such connections, which require fewer ID checks than post-paid phones, to conduct their business.

Needless to say, the move has utterly backfired. Putting aside the questionable logic of the tactic – are militants really incapable of coming up with some fake ID to get a post-paid phone or else buying a satellite phone? – the move has overnight outraged 3.8 million, largely poor subscribers. Around 20,000 phone salesmen are also furious. "It's ludicrous. Do they think we are all militants here," one angry woman from Srinagar, pictured above, tells me.

With bleak, ice-edged winter quickly descending, it seems that among those hardest hit by the ban are the valley's young lovers who in recent years have resorted to the cheap, easily obtained phones to conduct their relationships. Reports suggest that in this conservative Muslim society where arranged marriages remain the norm, couples relied on the phones to carry on their furtive affairs, away from the prying eyes of parents and neighbours. The phones had apparently become a popular gift for a young man to give his beloved.

In this long-traumatised valley that remains one of the most heavily militarised places on the planet, and where uncertainty and anxiety are the constant backdrop of everyday life, I can't help thinking that the people of Kashmir need all the love they can get.

Tea with the salt of the earth

I am visiting a village of widows, women whose husbands were killed after joining the militants. They are poor but kind and insist on making traditional "noon chai" which consists of tea, salt, baking soda, milk and, perhaps, butter. It's highly prized, especially in winter, but to me it tastes awful. I manage three cautious sips before joking that perhaps, several hundred years ago, an ancestor had mistook the sugar for the salt and that they were now having to suffer as a result and pretend it's their tradition. The following morning, struck by a rare case of Delhi belly, my joke seems even less amusing.

All forms, no substance

India's numbing bureaucracy is never far away. Every foreigner has to fill in a visitor's form three times: when they arrive, at the hotel, and when they leave. The forms contain exactly the same information. The final entry asks for "any suggestions". I snigger and write: "Fewer forms."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones