Fear, Anger Among Kashmiris Living Outside

A cop lays concertina wire across a road during restrictions in Srinagar in Srinagar on Friday | KO photo by Abid Bhat

Srinagar: Scores of Kashmiris living outside are reeling under fear, anger and skepticism as they’re struggling to get any news from their families in wake of a communication blockade enforced by the authorities after the death of former Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Wednesday.

Ibrahim Sultan, a Kashmiri working in Punjab, told Kashmir Observer that this was “inhumane” on the part of the Kashmir administration to place restrictions on communication. “My grandfather is on his deathbed and unfortunately, I’ve no idea whether he’s alive or dead,” he said.

He further added, “This communication blackout in Kashmir has caused an uncertainty that aggravates not just my anxiety but every Kashmiris who’s presently living across the country.”

On Thursday, hours after Geelani passed away, the J&K government imposed restrictions and snapped internet services and mobile connections in the region fearing a law and order situation. Except BSNL mobile and broadband, the other internet, text messaging and phone services have all been affected, with residents reduced to digging out ways to talk to their loved one’s living outside the valley.

The communication blackout has not only triggered chaos and panic among them but also triggered the trauma of the August 2019 communication clampdown.

Another Kashmiri, Ifrah Gulzar from Srinagar whose brother works in a Pune based IT company, HCl Technologies Limited, expressed the same kind of concern for her brother. As per Ifrah, she last spoke to her brother on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday, before the mobile networks were snapped in the valley.

“As uncertainty prevails over the communication blockade, I’m fretful about my brother’s safety with whom I’ve had no communication for the past 2 days now.”

She said “I’m unsure of when my family will be able to speak to my brother.”

Given the constant panic and fear instigated due to the communication blockade, a young Kashmiri, Asrar Imtiyaz presently putting up in New Delhi said that Thursday morning was quite dreadful as an unexpected blackout in Kashmir was spiraling into uncertainty.

“Imagine, waking up in the morning, trying to connect to your family and unexpectedly, one gets to know that communications in Kashmir have been snapped.” he said. “If everything’s normal in Kashmir, then why does mobile communication become the first casualty of an administrative crackdown?”

It is pertinent to mention here that the administration hasn’t made public any order on the internet shutdown, which activists say is a violation of the Supreme Court guidelines.

Meanwhile, voice calls on cellphones and fixed broadband services were restored on Friday night by the authorities after reviewing the situation.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

A media graduate from LPU, Zaid Bin Shabir is a Srinagar based journalist whose works have appeared in many local and international publications.

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