Airstrike aftermath: Kashmir unmoved as war clouds loom

Airstrike aftermath: Kashmir unmoved as war clouds loom

Commuters queue up at a petrol pump during a three-hour curfew relaxation for the first time since the imposition of curfew, in Jammu, on February 18, 2019. PTI

Amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan after IAF airstrike on terror camps across the Line of Control (LoC) on Tuesday night, people in Kashmir looked unmoved by the war clouds that are looming large.

While people across the nation remained largely glued to TV sets and mobile phones to get latest updates of airstrikes, people in Srinagar and elsewhere in the Valley looked more interested in finding ways and means to arrange few litres of petrol for their cars. Due to the frequent closure of Srinagar-Jammu national highway this winter, there is an acute shortage of petrol, LPG and other essentials in the Valley.

With the government having formally admitted that fuel stocks have exhausted, for people in Kashmir it was time to look for their domestic needs rather than discussing politics between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

Last week residents of Kashmir had gone on a hoarding spree after the government launched a crackdown on separatists and Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir cadre. The move was followed by the deployment of 100 additional companies of paramilitary forces in the valley.

“People in Kashmir have been now used to witness turbulent and war-like situations. During 2016 summer unrest, when the Valley remained shut for almost five months, people carried on with their lives and this time too we are more bothered about our day-to-day needs than what is going on between India and Pakistan,” said Owais, a college student.

His friend Shahid, however, hoped that Indo-Pak hostilities don’t escalate. “If there is an escalation in hostilities, not only people on either side of the Line of Control will suffer, but border residents of India and Pakistan will have to bear the brunt,” he said.

Even separatist leaders in Kashmir, who issue a statement on every situation, didn’t react to IAF strikes across the LoC. Instead, they called for a two-day strike against raids conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the homes of senior separatist leaders and the legal challenge to Article 35-A.

The Supreme Court might hear petitions which challenge the Constitutional validity of Article 35-A this week. The Article accords special rights to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir while barring outsiders from owning land and property, and availing employment and scholarship in the state.

Not only separatists but mainstream political parties too have been up in arms against the tinkering of the special status accusing the BJP-led government in New Delhi of trying to change the demography of the Muslim majority state.