‘Undeclared’ Curfews in Kashmir: Normalizing Abnormality?

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KO Analysis

SRINAGAR: An ‘undeclared curfew’ was imposed yet again by the authorities on Saturday. The remit of the curfew extended to the ‘usual suspect’ areas-Maisuma, Nowhatta, Khanyar, M.R Gunj, Rainawari and Safakadal. The ‘undeclared curfew’ or restrictions as the state chooses to call it  were imposed against the backdrop of a strike call given by the separatists against the High Court imposed ban on killing , sale and consumption of bovines. ‘Undeclared curfews’ or /and restrictions have become ubiquitous , a theme and a default reflex of the state to deal with untoward incidents and anticipated disturbance or violence. The areas that are placed under restrictions are familiar ones-downtown areas which have become the centre of gravity of protests and are defined by an anti-state reflex. The aim of the state here appears to use restrictions in these areas as a signaling device or mechanism to implicitly warn people of other areas and localities. Hit the centre of gravity of Srinagar and you have the entire Srinagar city choked appears to be the maxim of the state.

This is, insofar as the state’s intended remit is concerned but what explains the recourse to the terms ‘restrictions’ and ‘undeclared curfew’? The rationale for the state to take recourse to semantic jugglery appears to be obscure the reality of curfews by presenting these as restrictions or undeclared curfews. Curfews come with legal baggage and responsibility and carry negative connotations in terms of negative publicity for the state. The state, by taking recourse to discursive and semantic obscurantism exonerates itself from baggage and responsibility. While this may or may not redound to the state’s favor and advantage, restrictions, or undeclared curfews, cause undue trouble and sufferings galore for the people. Patients- critical or otherwise-, students who have to sit for exams or weddings planned during these period are thrown into a tizzy. Moreover, counter intuitively in terms of strike calls or hartalss, the restrictions strengthen these.

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