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Jammu violence: The other side

india Updated: Aug 11, 2008 19:24 IST
Amrita Sharma

There's been no let up in violence in the Kashmir Valley as protests continue unabated amidst political blame game and differences. Jammu region has witnessed violent protests over the state government's decision to allot 40 hectares of land to the shrine board and then cancelling the order. The rescinding of the order led to widespread protests in Jammu, and in its wake, the country was witness to disturbing images from the valley of the violence and bloodshed, which was to say the least, disconcerting.

Even as political debates rage on and leaders mull solutions, the crisis is apparently going out of hand. But what is clearly being overlooked is the human suffering and the plight of the common Kashmiri in its wake. With the 'economic blockade' hitting the supply of essential commodities, including medicines, petroleum products and foodgrains in the Valley, it is the common man who has been affected the most, especially in Poonch, Rajouri and Doda regions of Jammu division. <b1>

The biggest cause for concern at present are the acute hardships being faced by the people in the Kashmir Valley due to the scarcity of items of daily consumption. Many mothers struggled for alternatives as there was no supply of milk powder, and lots of patients in need of life-saving medicines had to be turned away at the chemist shops for lack of stock. Even kids had to miss school because of the unrest. Over 100 Kashmir-bound trucks carrying essential commodities were also stranded in Gurdaspur, making it difficult both for the traders as well as the common man.

The Oil Tankers Association also blocked oil and gas supplies to these regions until the government withdraws the order revoking land transfer to Amarnath shrine board. As a result, people are finding it difficult even to commute on a daily basis. "Yesterday, we had to go from one petrol pump to another but we could not get even one litre of petrol," said Muzafar Ahmad, who works with a software firm in Srinagar. "Last night, we had to drop our colleagues home and we just about managed to do so. It was a nightmarish experience," he added.

For school students and college-goers, the unrest has brought them face to face with yet another phase of uncertainty and frustration. The people are losing patience with not just the agitations but also the apparent lack of concern on part of the authorities regarding their predicament. "There are many people who are in constant need of medication, and now there is resentment brewing because when you are pushed to a corner you will end up retaliating, even though you don't want any violence or bloodshed," said Mohammad Irfan, an IT professional.

What's worse is that personal lives are being affected in more ways than one. Because of the blockade, many marriages have been put on hold. "There's utter shortage of rice mutton, and other essential components that are integral to our wedding ceremonies. In absence of that, we cannot go ahead with any weddings," added Mohammad Irfan, who is engaged and was to be married within a month.<b2>

Life for the common Kashmiri has come to a standstill with the economic blockade and now with the situation spiralling out of control, one can't help but notice the lack of a method in this madness. In the violence of the past six weeks, precious lives have been lost, people have been beaten and battered, and life in the Valley has come to a perilous stage. The worst part is the communal tinge that is colouring the whole issue now.

History has been witness to the fact that for more than 100 years, Kashmiris have treated the Amarnath yatris respectfully and amiably, providing them protection along with all the required facilities. Their hospitality has never left any room for complaints. In view of the past, it's not just desirable but imperative as well, to solve the volatile issue with utmost exigency so that the common Kashmiri is not held hostage to the current political conundrum. It's time that political leaders take proactive action before the "heaven on earth" goes up further in flames.