30 Days Later Kashmir Remains Closed And Watchful
The situation remains fluid in the Kashmir Valley a month since the revocation of the State’s special status on Tuesday.
The functioning of government offices, business centres and markets remained dismal even if a few indicators showed signs of normalcy.
A stark indicator of the situation is the failure of the Passport office to deliver over 2,000 passports in Kashmir and its inability to receive fresh applications since the August 5 decision of the Centre.
The attendance in essential government services like the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, the Public Heath Engineering and the Power Development Department “is yet to cross 50%”, according to official figures.
J&K government spokesman Rohit Kansal said, “The attendance is a gradual improvement.”
The government, however, takes credit for ensuring that all major hospitals were functioning normally despite unrest on the streets. According to official figures, a total of 49,000 surgeries, including 200 major surgeries and 2,000 cases of deliveries, were handled in the past four weeks.
The attendance of students may be negligible but the registration of students for upcoming Class 10 and Class 12 examination has picked up in all high schools in the Valley. Many schools have decided to keep open administration blocks for two hours, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
“We may not be able to complete the whole syllabus of students this year but the forms are being filled without any compromise. We are hopeful that the state board will draft questionnaire taking into consideration the truncated session this year,” said a principal.
The biggest challenge for the government is posed by a near total spontaneous shutdown of markets and the absence of public transport.
According to the Kashmir Valley Transporters Association figures, around 50,000 public transport vehicles remain grounded in the Valley since August 5. The inter-State train services also remain suspended.
Several markets open early in the morning but shut by 9 a.m. to observe a shutdown. “Shutdown is a peaceful means to register our anger over the government’s move to snatch our special rights,” a shopkeeper at Polo View market said.
Around 26,000 telephone lines, mainly used by government officials and offices in the Valley, may be restored but the mobile telephony, the nerve of communication, remain suspended across 10 districts of Kashmir valley, except partial restoration on an experimental basis in Handwara and Kupwara areas.
The emergency numbers to dial police, fire services and ambulances also remain out of reach. The internet and telephone lines to the Press Enclave, where most newspapers offices function, remain cut off too.
“Due to unprecedented communication blockade, it has crippled and overwhelmingly disabled them from reporting the ground situation,” said Kashmir Press Club vice president Moazam Muhammad.
He said hundreds of local and out-station journalists, are forced to stand in queues waiting to file their assignments at the makeshift Media Facilitation Centre in Srinagar.