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Updated item

Mobiles sing Azad's tune in Kashmir

Haroon Mirani

Srinagar, April 19, 2007 (Kashmir Newz Desk) :

Express
A song by Shameema Azad, Walev Badlaw Panun Taqdeer, (Let's change our destiny) that used to bombard the television screens in Kashmir after Azad took over as Chief Minister of Indian administered Kashmir is now readily available on cell phones, with experts terming it as another tool of public relations.

Even today the song is being telecast on Kashir and other local cable channels with scenes of men and machines at work presenting rosy picture of Kashmir.

Highly placed sources in the government suggested that the government has managed to reach an 'agreement' with a private cellular company to promote the song and with it the government's image.

Airtel, one among three mobile operators in the state is currently providing "hello tunes" (songs heard when a mobile number is dialed) in the shape of Kashmiri songs of Shameema Azad, wife of Jammu and Kashmir Chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad free to its majority of customers.

Shameema, a well known singer has during the past two years recorded couple of albums, all of whom depicted the present scenario of Kashmir. Experts call it as the spin diplomacy of Chief Minister Azad, who has been facing an uphill task at chair ever since he assumed office in November 2005.

The coalition government headed by Azad recently came close to dissolution after strong differences emerged between warring partners on the issue of demilitarization and withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Airtel currently has more than half a million cellular connections and at least half of them come under prepaid category, majority of who get this hello tune facility.

Usually Airtel charges INR 30 per month to activate the hello tune facility. But here the song is freely activated on the mobile phones.

Airtel official denying to be named refuted that the song is free and claimed there is variety of songs to be used by customers and it is indeed the people who have selected the song.

Contrary to this explanation most of the customers say that the song has been activated without their knowledge and nothing is charged for the song. "I had this song activated on my mobile without any knowledge and no fee is charged", says Javid Ahmad, who is a prepaid customer of Airtel.

When asked, Airtel customer care service gives an altogether different version. They say the song of Shameema Azad is a default song for Airtel and it has been approved by higher ups.

Recently Shameema also launched Dogri album, aimed for the people from winter capital Jammu region. Earlier they had to bear the alien Kashmir song, but now Dogri version has come handy for Airtel cellular company. The sources say that the song too was approved by the higher officials of Airtel and subsequently adjusted as a default song for the mobile customers of Jammu region.

Airtel higher ups argue that Shameema is the top singer and her songs are most sought after, but most of the people question that hadn’t their been any other singer of repute in Srinagar and Jammu till date, that airtel had to wholly re-discover her.

Airtel denies

The Airtel authorities have denied that any sort of 'agreement' has been reached with the government over this issue. While reacting to the newsitem they said that the songs in question are popular ones and are duly being activated after getting requests from mobile subscribers.

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