'My father never thought he'd see protests and unrest inside an airport': Canadian citizen of Kashmiri origin on post-Article 370 chaos
Sanna, a Canadian citizen of Kashmiri origin, wrote on Twitter about ordeal her family underwent in getting from their home in Kashmir to the airport during the curfew that preceded the abrogation of Article 370
'People began gathering gas, food, meat, money. Most people are bankrupting themselves to do so,' tweeted Sanna Wani
Her father had booked flight tickets for the family for 5 August, but at 10 pm, they received a message about the imminent shutdown of domestic phone networks
The family left for the airport at 8 am; five minutes after setting out, they were stopped at the first military blockade they would encounter
Sanna, a Canadian citizen of Kashmiri origin, wrote on Twitter about ordeal her family underwent in getting from their home in Kashmir to the airport during the curfew that preceded the abrogation of Article 370. She wrote that rumours about the abrogation of Articles 35A and 370 had been going around since the summer, and it was during the evacuation of pilgrims of the Amarnath Yatra that these rumours began to gain shape and form.
"People began gathering gas, food, meat, money. Most people are bankrupting themselves to do so. Those who were self-employed or low-income were worried about how they would feed their families. Panic was rife in the air and there was no relief," she wrote.
On 4 August, a photograph of a local hospital's request to issue curfew passes for their employees began circulating on WhatsApp. Sanna said that although most of her family was outside Kashmir, it was working towards ensuring her grandmother and pregnant cousin could leave the state.
Her father booked flight tickets for the family for 5 August, but at 10 pm, they received a message about the imminent shutdown of domestic phone networks. “All mosques, any place equipped with a loudspeaker, began announcing total curfew from 5 am tomorrow,” she wrote on Twitter.
The family left for the airport at 8 am; five minutes after setting out, they were stopped at the first military blockade they would encounter. “People were lined up, begging to get past. My dad got out of the car with the tickets on his phone (a risk) and was waved away first at it being invalid, fabricated. He finally managed to talk to a military guard and convinced him we really were going to the airport,” Sanna wrote.
Among the people who were not allowed to get through were those who needed access to hospitals. "Next to us, a man was holding his brother's X-rays, was begging to be let through to take his brother to surgery scheduled for today. Another woman, desperately needing to refill her child's medicine," Sanna added.
As they approached Eidgah and Safakadal, she noticed more military men. Boys and young men were sitting in a line outside their homes, on sidewalks and walls. During this journey, they were asked to turn back and go home, or take another route.
"Again and again, we were stopped and ask to prove why we were outside, why we were moving. I lost count after the sixth or seventh time," she wrote. Worried about their driver's safety, they stopped at police stations and security checks to attempt to get him a curfew pass; he was only given a printout of the family’s ticket and boarding passes — proof that he was breaking curfew to drive to the airport. “We still have not been able to contact him to make sure he got home safely,” she added.
The airport was chaotic, with flights getting delayed. It was there that Sanna's father heard about the abrogation of Article 370. She added that slogans such as ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘What do we want? Freedom! Even if we must steal it!’ were being chanted. The police warned people to stay quiet and took away the original inciter.
"My dad said to me he never thought he would see the day when protesting and unrest was even inside the airport," Sanna wrote.
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