People in Kashmir clueless when normalcy will return

Security personnel check documents of of motorcyclists at a road, during a shut down in Srinagar. (PTI Photo)

As uncertainty in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 completed 10-weeks in Kashmir on Monday, people are clueless as how long it will take normalcy to return fully.

Since August 5, the public transport remains off the roads while business establishments continue to remain shut. Though schools and colleges have been reopened, students are not attending the classes despite annual exams around the corner.

Despite the increasing number of private vehicles plying on roads from the last month, people are reluctant to resume their normal activities. Though protests, shutdowns and curfews are nothing new in Kashmir, in the last three decades of insurgency, this level of uncertainty was never visible.

The current spell of unrest is leaderless while in 2008, 2009, 2019 and 2016 unrests, the separatist was issuing protest calendars. In the previous unrests, separatists were forced to call-off strikes after a point of time. However, this time the strike is spontaneous and nobody is in a position to call it off.

“The anger among common people against the New Delhi’s unilateral decision to scrap Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K into two union territories will sustain the current unrest. The previous unrests had the support of only separatist elements, but this time even mainstream political parties including National Conference and PDP have no option but to protest against Center’s decision,” a political observer said.

Over 40 high profile political leaders, including former chief ministers, Farooq Abdullah his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, continue to remain under detention since August 5. “Right from 1947, mainstream leaders were a buffer between New Delhi and Kashmir. At the peak of insurgency in the 1990’s, when the situation was almost out of control, leaders like Farooq Abdullah helped the Center to restore normalcy in the Valley,” he said.

Though post-paid mobile services were restored in Kashmir after a gap of 70-days on Monday, internet services are likely to remain snapped for some more time. A senior police officer said there is an apprehension that people will show their anger through social media if the internet is restored, “which can lead to violence.”

“Till now there has been no major protest or violence in Kashmir since August 5 as the government was ready to deal with the situation in advance. The additional deployment of troops, communication blockade and detaining political leaders helped the situation to remain calm. It needs to be seen how people will react once these measures are withdrawn,” he added.

Last week Northern Command chief Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said the situation in the state remains fragile, “because Pakistan continues with its designs to push in infiltrators so that they can keep Jammu and Kashmir in a constant state of turmoil.”

“We are prepared to foil their designs,” he told reporters in Jammu.

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