Kashmir after Article 370: Ground situation belies official claims about 'normalcy' as offices, business establishments remain shut

At Srinagar's Maisuma locality, which has been the hub of several separatist protests, spools of barbed wire and baton-wielding personnel of the police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have cut off local residents from the rest of the city. The situation has been so since five days before the Union government scrapped Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

At present, the situation continues to be grim, as authorities have shut internet services, as also cable networks and telephone facilities. Offices and business establishments remained shut.

Some people even postponed marriage ceremonies in their families. One of them was Mir Mubark Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar's Alfarooq Colony. Ahmad made an announcement through a notice in a local newspaper that the marriage ceremony of his son, which was to take place on 6 and 7 August, would not be held on that day.

 Kashmir after Article 370: Ground situation belies official claims about normalcy as offices, business establishments remain shut

Security forces personnel stand guard next to concertina wire laid across a road during restrictions after Centre's decision to scrap special status for Kashmir. Reuters

On Monday, when the decision to revoke the special status of the state was announced, even mediapersons were not allowed to move on the roads. Many people were denied curfew passes, and even employees of the government's information department were unable to reach their office.

On Monday afternoon, government spokesperson Rohit Kansal asked people to remain calm. Addressing a handful of journalists at a government guest house in Srinagar, Kansal said that Kashmir has stocks of essential commodities which can last for “more than three months” . But the situation on the ground belied the claims.

Shops remained shut as the police enforced a curfew. At hospitals, attendants said that they were unable to contact family members of patients.

Abdul Razzaq Teli, a Pulwama resident who transports milk from south Kashmir to Srinagar, said, "The restrictions are most severe. We have never witnessed such strong curbs. I couldn’t sell milk for the first four days (after the legislations were introduced by the Central government)." He added, "The revocation of Article 370 will further disrupt the peace in Kashmir, and may lead to communal violence. Now, people from other parts of the country can buy land and property here."

Due to the communication blockade, people were not able to reach out to relatives and friends to inquire about their well-being.

On Tuesday, after students at Kashmir University held protests, authorities forced them to vacate their hostels. Security personnel patrolled pavements outside the university, as youth engaged in clashed with the police and paramilitary forces in Srinagar's Hazratbal area. In Saidakadal area of Srinagar, youths stopped vehicles to prevent outsiders from travelling to the city.

Authorities have also put curbs on mainstream political leaders as well as separatists, and detained a large number of political workers either at their houses or inside government buildings. Former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were whisked away from their official residences at Gupkar Road and detained at Hari Niwas, a government building.

Political parties reacted sharply to the decisions of the central government to end the state's special status, and make it a Union territory. National Conference president and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah said that the party will challenge the legislation in court. He also termed the decision as "dictatorial".

Updated Date: Aug 11, 2019 17:37:06 IST