Srinagar’s civil secretariat on Thursday turned into a garrison with the media camera’s eyeing on its gates and employees rushing to windows as the J-K’s main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), locked up civil secretariat in Srinagar and bolted employees and ministers inside.
The party MLAs closed the main gate of the secretariat and did not allowed the employees and the ministers to venture out in an attempt “to highlight the suffering of people living under constant siege due to curfews”. The protesting employees described the present dispensation as “jungle Raj”.
Since morning, the PDP MLAs started assembling inside the secretariat premises. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was present in his office. The PDP MLAs, led by the party president Mehbooba Mufti marched towards the main entrance of the secretariat and locked the gate with many ministers from the ruling party National Conference, senior officers and employees inside.
Sensing trouble, the Chief Minister and three senior ministers left the secretariat compound before the PDP laid its ‘siege’. Later, a sit-in was also organized.
“We did not allow anyone to move out. This was to give the government a taste of the siege which it has laid around every citizen of Kashmir. There are declared and undeclared curfews day in and day out in the state. Sense of fear prevails among the locals here,” said senior PDP leader Iftikhar Hussain Ansari while speaking to the media outside the secretariat. The media was barred from entering the secretariat premises to cover the protest.
Holding placards with slogans like “Dignity, My foot”, “childhood abused” and pictures of youth killed during the last one month, the PDP president said: “The government is telling parents to keep their children inside homes, otherwise they will be killed. It threatened employees to attend offices but declare curfew at the same time. Hundreds of boys continue to languish behind the bars. This is nothing but jungle Raj.”
The protest created a media spectacle when Mehbooba, along with the MLAs, came on to the main road and addressed the media on the Srinagar lone fly-over.
She accused the government of “letting loose a reign of terror”. “More than 1,400 teenagers were arrested as per the official figures but the actual figure is much larger. Continued undeclared curfew and inhuman restrictions have converted the whole valley into a large prison,” said Mehbooba.
The PDP held a protest demonstration for the first since June 11; the day a boy died in police firing in Srinagar. Since then 17 people have died in security forces’ action against the protesters.
Marginalized by separatists’ protests for the last six weeks, the mainstream political party finally asserted itself today and said “it represents the common man on the street and worry for them”.
“The reason the PDP boycotted the meet was that many harsh decision were taken by the government and it wanted us to ratify them. We will not,” said Ansari, who demanded immediate release of political prisoners and the youth before the holy month of Ramzan.
Condemning the police action on residents of Shopian who were carrying essentials like vegetables, oil etc in trucks to urban areas of Srinagar, Mehbooba said the party has decided to collect essentials for the people suffering due to curfews and ensure it reaches the needy.
“This government wants to kill people by suppression and starvation,” alleged Mehbooba.
The legislators demanded dismantling of repressive arrangements in place to muzzle the voice of people.
Ansari alleged the Chief Minister is surrounded by advisers “who know nothing about the culture and ethos of Kashmir and, in the process, has failed to deliver”.