Communication blockade fueling anger in Kashmir
Life has become difficult in Kashmir without communication and the blockade which the govt says is ‘temporary’ has now started fuelling frustration and anger in Kashmiris
It was an emotional reunion for Imran Ahmad with his family. The 32-year-old sells Kashmir handicrafts in Mumbai and returned home to Hawal here on Monday.
He had been unable to get in touch with his family in Kashmir since a fortnight, after security curbs and a communication blockade was imposed in the state following the scrapping of Article 370 that granted special status to Kashmir within the Indian union.
Ahmad broke down on seeing his ageing parents, and tightly hugged his two and three year old nephews.
He is getting married next week. But the communication blackout has complicated his wedding arrangements. While most weddings in Kashmir stand cancelled given the situation, Ahmad does not intend to do so. Instead, he plans to have low key celebrations.
"Life has become too difficult without communication. In a sad situation like this, how can one even think of celebration? It is going to be a very simple affair," said Ahmad.
Ahmad's neighbours are also angry. "This has never happened in Kashmir, we have been caged," lamented Ghulam Mohiuddin.
Others said the gag order was only fuelling anger. "It is triggering frustration in Kashmir and is a great provocation for the people," said Mohammad Hafeez.
The government calls the communication blockade "temporary" and has promised restoration of all landline connections. "Out of 96,000 landlines in the state, 73,000 have started functioning," said government spokesperson Rohit Kansal.
But some like Abdul Majeed, a resident of Firdousabad in Batamlloo area of Srinagar, complain that the landlines which were restored a couple of days ago, have stopped working altogether.
"It is a joke, the landlines were restored in our area but were snapped in a matter of few hours. The radio silence is becoming unbearable," he said.
The government says it is abreast of the situation and the matter is being taken up with service provider BSNL for quick redressal.
"We have received complaints that some landlines have stopped working, we have taken it up with the BSNL, they have some capacity constraints, but they are working on it and as per our promise all the landlines will be restored," Kansal added.
But those assurances can only instil confidence when communication lines open up in Kashmir and people sense some actual relief on the ground.
Meanwhile, the authorities on Wednesday continued with day-time relaxations across Kashmir, while students stayed away from schools despite the administration's order of the reopening of educational institutions up to the middle classes-level across the Valley.
The authorities have lifted restrictions from several areas of Kashmir, including from several parts of the city, officials said.
They said barricades were removed from uptown and civil lines areas of the city, but deployment of security forces continued to maintain law and order. However, restrictions continued in some parts especially in the downtown areas of the city here.
Most of the schools, especially private-run institutes, wore deserted look as no student turned up to attend the classes even as a few staff members joined duties at some of these institutions, the officials said.
They said parents desisted from sending their children even to the government-run schools because of the prevailing situation.
With inputs from agencies