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All politics, no blockade

The mainstream and separatist Kashmiri leaders may be crying themselves hoarse over the issue of ‘economic blockade’, but the ground reality is totally different, writes Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2008 00:30 IST
Arun Joshi

The mainstream and separatist Kashmiri leaders may be crying themselves hoarse over the issue of ‘economic blockade’, but the ground reality is totally different.

While helicopters are hovering over the Pathankote-Jammu-Srinagar highway, the army has effectively sealed all the roads leading to this lifeline of supplies to Jammu & Kashmir. Meanwhile, hundreds of trucks laden with sheep, poultry, medicines and foodgrains are running smoothly toward their destinations, uninterrupted by protesters.

“It is our single-minded focus to keep the highway through and ensure supplies to Kashmir,” Chief Secretary S.S. Kapur said.

After some incidents of violence in the Jammu region — as also in Anantnag in the Valley — there were protests and blockade for a few hours in Punjab. These incidents — not entirely targeted against Kashmiris — were played up in the Valley as “economic blockade” even after the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarash Samiti leading the Jammu agitation categorically denied any such move.

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was the first to do so; thereafter, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Yasin Malik, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Farooq Abdullah followed the suit, threatening they would look at the option of trading through the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road. They were exploiting the loose statement of state BJP president Ashok Khajuria, who had used the terms like “blocking supplies” and “quit Jammu”.

Meanwhile, Governor N N Vohra declared that whatever had happened on the roads leading to Kashmir were “traffic disruptions” and “not the economic blockade”. He made it clear that there was “no planned economic blockade”.

“They are apparently trying to out do each other in the similar fashion as they first did on the land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, for they view electoral gains in it,” said Mohammad Aslam Khan, a retired employee.