Restrictions, blockades fail J&K govt’s normalcy claims

The clock tower at deserted Lal Chowk is pictured during a security lockdown in Srinagar. (AFP Photo)

Despite claims of improvement in situation by the government, restrictions and information blockade continued in Kashmir for the 16th consecutive day on Tuesday with stray incidents of stone-pelting happening in several parts of the Valley.

In parts of Srinagar city, amid the thin movement of private vehicles, thousands of gun-wielding troops continue to patrol almost deserted streets that are barricaded with coils of razor wire, with residents locked up inside their homes.

Reports of clashes and stone-pelting were received from several areas of Srinagar, which include 7.5 km long 90-Feet Road stretch connecting Soura with Ganderbal, Sekidafar, Nawa Kadal, Safa Kadal and Eidgah in the old city and Chanpora, Natipora and Mehjoor Nagar in civil lines.
Even though the government claims that restrictions have been eased out from 50% areas in Kashmir, an uneasy calm prevails across the Valley, reports said. Like Monday, students remained away from schools on Tuesday as well though teachers were reporting back to their duties in the primary schools which have been asked by the authorities to reopen.

Authorities had planned to reopen schools up to primary level and make all government offices functional from Monday. Director Information Kashmir, Syed Sherish Asgar said that the attendance of employees at civil secretariat has reached 98% while the attendance of staff in other government offices is picking up slowly.

As most of the petrol pumps in Srinagar remain closed, people have to face a lot of inconveniences to refuel their vehicles. In the evening, a good number of cars could be seen waiting at some pumps with a hope that these outlets may open for a brief period, but most of the times vehicle owners have to return disappointed.

On August 17, authorities had restored landline numbers in some areas of the city. However, reports said, in most of these areas, the landlines have again gone silent since Monday. The communication clampdown, which was imposed on August 4 night, continues to remain in force with mobile connectivity and internet services snapped.

The steps were taken as there was an apprehension of large-scale violence against New Delhi’s decision to scrap Article 370 and reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir state into two union territories. Hundreds of people, including former chief minister Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, continue to remain in custody with reports of more arrests by the police pouring in from several areas of Kashmir.

In Jammu region, leaders from opposition parties have either been placed under house arrest or their movement was being consistently followed, state Congress chief spokesperson, Ravinder Sharma said. 
“This is worse than an emergency as people from one political ideology are free to speak while the movement of others has been restricted,” he was quoted by a local English daily as having said.

Chairman of National Panthers Party (NPP) and former minister Harsh Dev Singh alleged that Center was playing with the emotions of people “which was not acceptable.”

 

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