Life not normal as portrayed in J&K: Srinagar's mayor

Soldiers search a car at a roadblock during a lockdown in Srinagar on September 3. (AFP Photo)

Junaid Azim Mattu, the mayor of Srinagar, has criticised the Central Government for the abrogation of Article 370 and the clampdown imposed on Jammu and Kashmir.

Mattu, in an interview with NDTV, criticised the government for not taking the opinion of local leaders and detaining the main leadership of Kashmir. He said, "The main leadership is under detention and their family members are being harassed." He further said that detention centres have become more like sub-jails with a jail manual. 

The mayor described the assumption that life in Kashmir is normal as presented by media and government as "highly unrealistic". He said, "Containing a sentiment in the aftermath of a radical decision by enforcing a clampdown doesn't mean that the situation is normal. The BJP government's policy of detainment seems to be a purely operational one.” 

Mattu also condemned the act of some political leaders of sharing the traffic in Kashmir to show normalcy. He said, “People going out to purchase groceries and medicines cannot be considered as traffic.” He further said that the absence of dead bodies does not mean everything is normal and people are happy.” 

He also spoke about the healthcare saying that stockpiling medicines does not mean healthcare is good, people need dialysis, chemotherapy and need to reach out to doctors in an emergency which is not the current situation.

He said that revoking of Article 370 that gave special status to Kashmir and separating it into two Union Territories without any discussions with their local representative was a humiliation for the state causing “existential crisis''. 

He said, "We have always lived with a very palpable threat of violence, that's not a new scenario. But to use that to justify the withdrawal of fundamental rights... that's at the very core of alienation in Kashmir."

He also criticised arrests and detentions of mainstream activists. He said, "Over the years, political activists in Kashmir have braved threats and violence by terrorist elements to survive in the mainstream. But today, they are hunted and hounded." 

Though the Central Government says that eventually clampdown will be eased, Mattu criticised it saying that a lot of families are not able to communicate with their loved ones. 
Mattu is the spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference (JKPC) and became the mayor with the BJP's support.

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