Separatists start helpline in Srinagar; protests continue across state

  • Ashiq Hussain, Hindustan Times, Srinagar, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Aug 21, 2016 09:14 IST
Police directs patients to board the ambulances during protest against the police outside old Secretariat Shaheed Gunj in Srinagar. (PTI Photo)

Moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Saturday started a helpline for people reeling under curfew after complaints that security forces were “not allowing” essential commodities to enter Srinagar. But the state government has refuted charges of any blockade of essential commodities.

The Mirwaiz expressed concern and anguish over “blocking of intra district movement of vehicles” carrying essentials such as medicines, vegetables and milk to Srinagar, especially to old city areas.

He termed imposition of round the clock curfew, after violence erupted across Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in on July 8, as revenge against the people by the government which he said was an “anti-human regime”.

“In this crisis situation created by the vengeful state, each one of us has to redouble our efforts and help and support each other in every possible way. Adversity is a great teacher in a nation’s moral and character building. In connection with the current embargo, a help line by Dar-Ul-Khair Mirwaiz Manzil has been set up,” the Mirwaiz said.

He said that those in urgent need should call at 9419017890 for help after getting in touch with the local masjid committee.

However, Jammu and Kashmir consumer affairs and civil supplies minister, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali said that there was also no dearth of essential commodities in the Valley. He said that 2258 truck load of essential commodities such as rice, wheat, sugar, flour, vegetables, LPG and petroleum products reached Kashmir in the last two weeks and the daily supply is continuously on.

He said that he has already directed divisional commissioner Kashmir and inspector general of police (traffic) to ensure smooth movement of trucks carrying essential commodities.

Meanwhile there is no end to the cycle of protests and crackdowns.

Read: A Kashmir policy with Baltistan, owls and chickens

A group of patients and ambulance drivers protested outside the old secretariat in Srinagar on Saturday after police allegedly stopped ambulances ferrying patients.   The protest comes a day after a CRPF officer was suspended for firing at an ambulance driver in Srinagar’s old city area.

In north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, many people were injured after security forces used teargas and pellet guns to disperse a group of protesting youth. The protesters were trying to prevent the security forces from launching a search operation in Fatehgarh area of the district.

Earlier on Saturday, authorities partially restored mobile phone services across the Valley.

Common people, reeling under an intense communication blockade, were able to make calls to their near and dear ones after authorities lifted the restrictions on the operation of post-paid mobile services.

The services were suspended on August 13, ahead of the Pakistan’s Independence Day celebrations.

The incoming call services of pre-paid mobiles, which form the bulk of customers in the Valley, were also restored. However, it was not clear when pre-paid customers also be able to make calls.

Read: Elderly couple, 7-year-old boy injured in security forces firing in Kashmir

Internet access for mobile phones is still suspended in the Valley. The authorities have only allowed BSNL post-paid mobile and landline services to function unhindered while blocking the rest, on and off.

Officials say that mobile and internet services trigger the spread of rumors and escalate protests. But activists insist that lack of communication services actually triggers the rumour mongering.

The separatists have been continuously issuing protest calendars and they extended the latest protest programme to August 25. 

They have also asked people to write to all MLAs, MLCs and ministers of “pro-Indian” political parties and demand their resignation from the government and party positions. A poster letter has already started making rounds in social media asking the pro-India politicians to quit.

Read: World’s largest Muslim bloc expresses concern over violence in Kashmir

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