J&K: Restrictions eased; shutdown, info block continues

J&K: Restrictions eased; shutdown, info block continues

The services continued to remain snapped in the commercial hub of Lal Chowk and Press Enclave at Srinagar (AFP File Photo)

Despite authorities easing up restrictions in most parts of Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir, spontaneous shutdown and communication blockade continued in the Valley for 22nd consecutive day on Aug.26.

Relaxation in restrictions has been extended in parts of old city Srinagar since Aug.24, though heavy deployment of security forces remains in place. However, barricades and circles of concertina wires have been removed from most main roads in uptown, security deployment and barricades continue in old city areas.

Movement of private vehicles has also seen an increase in the last three days at the city centre, Lal Chowk and adjoining areas even though the security personnel were seen standing guard at all vital road junctions. The shops and business establishments continue to remain shut with thin attendance in government offices.

Educational institutions also remained closed across Kashmir, though the government claims that students have been starting to attend classes upto middle level in the schools which were reopened last Monday. 

Even as landline services were working in some pockets of Srinagar, mobile phone and internet services continue to remain snapped putting people in immense hardship. The telecom services were blocked on the intervening night of August 4 and 5. Authorities are tightlipped over restoration of mobile and internet connectivity.

However, sources said, for time being government had no plans to restore the telecom facilities in the besieged valley. “There are apprehensions that vested interests may mobilize crowds against the Centre’s decision to abrogate the special status of J&K as soon mobile and internet services are restored. Keeping that in view, there is a likelihood that these services may remain snapped for a longer period of time,” they said.

On Aug.25, J&K governor Satya Pal Malik while defending the communication blockade, said, “If it helps in saving lives, what is the harm. In the past whenever there was a crisis in Kashmir, at least 50 people used to die in the first week itself.”