September 2019 News

Despite Militant Threats, Normalcy Returning To Kashmir

19 September 2019
Deccan Herald
Zulfikar Majid

Srinagar: Despite militants and stone-pelters threatening residents to observe a complete shutdown in protest of the Centre's decision to abrogate Article 370, Kashmir is gradually returning to normalcy as most of the government offices have started functioning normally. The posters of militant outfits which started appearing from early September across Kashmir have been asking people to stay inside. In the posters, the militants have threatened those who keep their shops or businesses open and employees who attend their duties with dire consequences. Petrol pump owners were asked to close their outlets and were threatened with blasts if they violated the order. They have also warned apple traders in various fruit mandis (markets) in Kashmir not to open their shops, threatening them with dire consequences, if they refused. Similar threats have been issued to educational institutions - schools, colleges, universities, asking them not to open. READ: On Kashmir, SC has disappointed so far In Sopore area of north Kashmir, unidentified stone-pelters burnt down a vehicle on September 16 evening. Windowpanes of hundreds of vehicles have been broken across Kashmir for violating the militant diktats, though no party or organization has called for a shutdown. However, despite threats, the movement of private vehicles is increasing with each passing day. The attendance in government offices is improving while in courts the normal work has also resumed. While shopkeepers in civil lines Srinagar are operating normally, in the old city and other areas, shops remain open during mornings and evenings. It is only educational institutions which have been affected as parents are wary to send their children schools, colleges and universities. However, the school and college managements, have provided the students with assignments to be completed at home. Most of the students have also submitted their forms for board exams which are likely to be held in October. Similarly, the admission process for pre-primary classes in most of the prestigious schools in Srinagar is going on these days, with children and their parent's appearing for interviews. The restrictions imposed by the authorities on August 5 - after the Centre abrogated the Article 370 and 35A, which used to provide special status to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, including separate flag and constitution - have been lifted. However, security forces personnel, including police and paramilitary CRPF men wearing riot gears remain deployed in large numbers across the Valley to maintain peace. However, internet and mobile phone services continue to remain snapped as authorities fear these may be used by separatists to mobilize people and militants to communicate with their handlers across the border. Landline phones across Kashmir have been restored. 'Social media is being used by Pakistan to radicalize young minds in the Valley, which remains a big challenge for us,' a senior police officer said while hinting that internet services may not be restored anytime soon. 'Unnerved by the absence of a violent public backlash against the abrogation of Article 370, militants are resorting to civilian killings and threats to instil fear among the people so that the return of normalcy is prevented in the valley,' he said.

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