- A few days ago Ghulam Mohammad (name changed), a bus conductor from Nowpora area in Srinagar, borrowed a handcart from a neighbour and stuffed a few vegetables to sell them in the market. Jobless for more than 90 days, he has to feed a family of six.
- Director School Education and Kashmir’s first IAS topper Shah Faesal, in a Facebook post calls himself the director of ‘shut schools’. “I need a job,” he posted.
- Trade bodies say Kashmir’s economy has taken a hit of Rs 120 crore a day on an average. Over the past 90 days the economy has a lost over Rs 10,000 crore.
The current unrest in Kashmir entered the fourth month on Saturday making it the longest period the Valley has been shut down in history.
At least 90 people have lost their lives in the bloody unrest so far triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8.
Thousands others have been injured in crackdowns by security forces. At least 14 youth, including two teenagers, have died of pellet injuries in the past three months.
Thousands have also been jailed and hundreds including human rights activist Khurram Pervez booked under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA). The administration is not even allowing the religious processions of Shia community in the holy month of Muharram.
The separatist leadership including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik continue to be either under house arrest or in custody.
But protests continue in many parts of the valley. “The youth seem adamant not to let things return to normal. Even the separatists don’t seem to be in control,” said a senior police officer.
In the absence of any ‘concessions from the Centre’, a return to normalcy seems unlikely for now.
“The attitude of government of India is that it doesn’t pay any attention and is waiting to wear out the people,” said Prof Noor Ahmad Baba, political analyst. “It seems like a war of nerves between the separatists and government of India in which Kashmiris are suffering,” he added.
Business establishments remain closed and public transport is off the roads. Although private vehicles have started plying, transporters are still in the lurch. Reports suggest around 5,000 vehicles are lying unused for the past three months.
“I had bought a new, more comfortable auto a few months before the unrest. Now for last three months, I have to not only take care of my family without earning a penny but also pay the EMIs,” said Shabir Ahmad from Srinagar’s Civil Lines.
Like other businesses, banking too has been hit with some bank branches working for flexible hours. “We generally don’t ask the female staff to come every day but males who live in safer areas have been coming to various branches,” said a manager in a private bank.
The government has announced the examination dates for classes 10 and 12 in November. But most students have been unable to attend school for three months.
Prof Baba feels the protests might not sustain for a long time but “lack of acknowledgement of the problem cannot be the solution”.
“If the youth get the sense of hopelessness this time as well, it might not be a good news for the future,” he warned.