Terror, trust, protest: Govt has its work cut out

A Kashmiri girl rides her cycle past security force personnel standing guard in front of closed shops in a street in Srinagar on October 30, 2019. Reuters

With five terror attacks in the last fortnight targeting outsiders, the biggest challenge before the new administration in the bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir will be to restore normalcy and instil confidence among people, including migrant workers.

The state, whose special status under Article 370 was scrapped on August 5, will be bifurcated into two Union Territories on October 31. Parliament had passed the reorganisation of the state on August 6.

It is also to be seen when and how the administration will release the political leaders who are in detention since August 5.

The government has claimed that there has been no violence in the state following its decisions, as it imposed restrictions on movement and resorted to Internet shutdown and communication blackout. It has also said that several restrictions were lifted over a period of time and that the Valley is returning to normalcy.

There were five terrorist strikes since October 14 in which 11 non-Kashmiris were killed. Four truckers, a brick-kiln owner, an apple trader and five workers were among the casualties.

The targeting of outsiders, especially those involved in economic activities or labour, has sent shock waves as well as a message to the administration.

Another question that looms is: When will the government fully lift the lockdown which has hit normal life and state's economy? Shops are not fully functional and many educational institutions still remain closed in Kashmir, while the situation in the Jammu region is comparatively normal.

The security establishment is also keeping its fingers crossed about the response of the people once the restrictions are removed. So far, there has been no attempts to organise protests, but civil society groups say Kashmiris are in a different mode of "civil disobedience".

Murmu's tasks

The new administration under Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu will have to earn people's trust and nudge them to resume normal life. The administration's biggest task will be to get people open their shops and send children to schools and colleges.

Another job will be to get the state's economy, which has taken a big hit, back on track. The tourism sector as well as the carpet and apple sectors have been affected since August 5.

Holding Assembly elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory will be another challenge. The elections are not expected any time soon as the Narendra Modi government is keen on completing the delimitation exercise, which the Opposition alleges the move is to alter the composition of seats to suit the BJP's designs to instal its own government.

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