Day 53: Normal Life Remains Suspended in Kashmir

Photo: Abid Bhat / KO

SRINAGAR – Paramilitary forces deployed across Kashmir following abrogation of Article 370, were put on maximum alert on Wednesday following ‘inputs of possible militant strikes’. Meanwhile normal life remained crippled due to government curbs and a spontaneous shutdown for the 53nd day.

Shops and business establishments are functioning for about two hours from 0700 hrs to 0900 hrs in summer capital, Srinagar, including Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the city, where people were seen making purchases of essentials and other articles. Later, life again came to a halt after shopkeepers closed their establishments. Interestingly, some bank branches were also seen functioning for few hours in the morning before shutting down again.

But, hardly any such activity was witnessed in the downtown, where security forces remained deployed in strength to maintain law and order. Security was especially tight in Shia dominated areas of Zadibal, Harwan and Mirgund to bar processions on the occasion of martyrdom anniversary of 4th Shia Imam Zainul-Aabideen (AS).

The situation in Shehar-e-Khas, where all gates of historic Jamia Masjid remained closed to prevent assembly of people since August 5, saw no change. A large number of CPMF remained deployed in the Jamia Market and outside the Masjid to maintain law and order.

Public transport was off the roads on Wednesday. The State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) buses also remained off the roads. However, private vehicles were seen plying on city roads. In some areas traffic jam was witnessed, particularly in the morning. Three wheelers could also be seen plying early in the morning in some uptown and civil line areas before going off the roads at 0900 hrs.

There was also no change in the situation elsewhere in the valley, where all shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic was off the roads due to strike since August 5. However, private vehicles were seen plying on some routes.

Business and other activities remained crippled for the 52 day on Wednesday in south Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian. There was also no change in the situation in Kupwara, Baramulla, Bandipora, Pattan, Sopore, Handwara and Ajas in north Kashmir. Reports of shutdown were also received from central Kashmir districts of Ganderbal and Budgam.

Internet and mobile service of all Cellular companies, including Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), remained suspended since August 5 to prevent spread of rumours in the valley, where train service was also shut.

Students continue to stay away

Majority of students continued to stay away from schools due to uncertain situation in Kashmir valley.

The educational institutes remained deserted despite administration ordering reopening of primary, middle and high schools last month.

All educational institutions, including universities, engineering and other professional colleges were closed from August 5, when the special status of the state was scrapped, evoking sharp and spontaneous reaction from the locals.

Meanwhile, some coaching centers in the valley have shifted their institutes outside the state along with teachers and students. The coaching centers have provided hostel facilities to the students and teachers though has further burdened the pockets of the parents at a time when economy in the valley is already under huge stress due to unrest since August 5.

Even though students continued to stay away from classes, different private educational institutions have announced fresh admission for lower classes in the valley. The private schools have also provided all study material and video lessons to students on Pen-Drives and photo copies to prepare for examinations.

Meanwhile, parents have expressed concerns over sending their children to schools in view of uneasy situation, coupled with a gag on communication, including mobile and internet services since August 5. “If there is any untoward incident how will we know it since there is no communication and how will the school administration inform us,” the parents said.

The administration had ordered reopening of schools and assured safety of students without actually doing anything on the ground. “We used to get phone call from school to take our children back to home in case of any law and order problem,” the parents said, adding due to communication gag how would we know about any incident.

The government had ordered reopening of primary schools from August 19 and Middle schools from August 21 followed by high schools. However, almost all schools in Srinagar wore a deserted look though 60 to 70 per cent teachers and other staff attended their respective institutions. Private schools also remained closed.

The Kashmir University (KU), Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Central University Kashmir (CUK) and Cluster university also remained closed. Students of these universities who were staying in hotels have already left for their home. The IUST has also postponed all semester examinations.

All private and government engineering and poly-technical colleges also remained closed. The National Institute of Technology (NIT), Srinagar also remained closed and students of different states have left for their homes under security on August 6.

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