Situation in Kashmir Far from Normal, Say Activists After Return from Valley
A team of activists Jean Dreze, Kavita Krishnan, Maimoona Mollah and Vimal Bhai travelled across Kashmir to get voices from the Valley as it continues to be cut-off from the rest of India.
People wait outside the Deputy Commissioner's office in Pulwama in order to make a telephone call to their loved ones.
New Delhi: More than a week after provisions of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution were abrogated, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, there is anger and anguish across the Valley, said a group of civil rights activists who returned from Kashmir on Tuesday.
A team of activists Jean Dreze, Kavita Krishnan, Maimoona Mollah and Vimal Bhai travelled across Kashmir to get voices from the Valley as it continues to be cut-off from the rest of India. The team travelled to Sopore, Anantnag, Bandipura and Pulwama among other areas, and found that curfew-like restrictions prevail everywhere.
A short video by them shows deserted streets and shut shops even on the festival of Eid. Only a few hospitals, ATMs and chemist shops remain open.
“The people of the Valley feel that the move to abrogate Article 370 is an act of humiliation and aggression. They are angry that they are locked up,” Krishnan said.
The team added that Kashmiris feel that Section 370 was their only link with India and it was broken without even consulting them. They said they could not find anyone who is happy with the abrogation, except the BJP spokesperson for Jammu and Kashmir.
“There is massive military presence in the Valley. There is one paramilitary person per 10 people. Pellet guns are also fired from time to time. The purpose of the government is not to kill terrorists, but to control locals and control protests,” said Dreze.
Days before home minister Amit Shah announced the decision to abrogate Article 370 and split Jammu and Kashmir into Union Territories of Ladakh and J&K, the Valley was heavily militarized.
On August 4, leaders of political parties in Kashmir were put under house arrest and Section 144, which restricts the gathering of more than five people, was imposed. Mobile, landline and internet connections were cut.
Politicians from opposition parties who flew to Srinagar were deported from the airport. On Tuesday, Kashmiri IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal, president of J&K People’s Movement Party, was sent back to Srinagar when he landed in Delhi to board a flight to Istanbul. Faesal was and put under house arrest in Srinagar under the Public Safety Act.
The home ministry has maintained that the situation in the Valley remains normal. It has denied international media reports which claimed large-scale protests in Kashmir.
The official Twitter handle of the spokesperson of the home ministry tweeted, “A news report originally published in Reuters and appeared in Dawn claims there was a protest involving 10,000 people in Srinagar. This is completely fabricated & incorrect. There have been a few stray protests in Srinagar/Baramulla and none involved a crowd of more than 20 ppl (sic).”
But the team of activists said what is shown on national channels is only a small enclave in Srinagar and the situation in the Valley is “anything but normal”.
“The situation in the Valley is tense, volatile and no one knows how it will turn once the curfew is relaxed,” said Dreze.
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