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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Communication blackout in Valley: Anxious moments for families at Chandigarh’s Kashmiri Colony

The government on Monday had snapped television, telephone and internet links in Kashmir to deter protests following scrapping of special constitutional status to the Himalayan region.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 08, 2019 09:27 IST
Idrees Bukhtiyar
Idrees Bukhtiyar
Chandigarh
Some 100-odd families settled in the Kashmiri Colony in Chandigarh’s 29 in the 1980s.
Some 100-odd families settled in the Kashmiri Colony in Chandigarh’s 29 in the 1980s.(HT Photo)
         

For the 100-odd families settled in Kashmiri Colony in Sector 29, Chandigarh, every passing hour is crowded with feelings of anxiety and uncertainty regarding the safety of their loved ones still living in the Valley.

“The situation is tense. The government has deployed security forces on all roads. It feels unsafe here,” the younger brother of 70-year-old Bashir Ahmad Khan told him over the phone, when they last spoke on Sunday, a day before Section 370 of the Constitution was diluted.

The government on Monday had snapped television, telephone and internet links in Kashmir to deter protests following scrapping of special constitutional status to the Himalayan region.

Khan, who has been living in the Kashmiri Colony since the 1980s, runs a shop at the Sector 26 grain market. “I hail from Handwara district in north Kashmir. The area has a huge presence of army. I am worried about the safety of my relatives,” he said.

Waiting for any update from the Valley on her mobile phone, 44-year-old Jabeena Bano, a native of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, said she was restless in absence of any information about her family. “I don’t know if they are alright or the situation in their vicinity,” an anxious Bano said.

Her husband, Al Mohammad Sheikh, 47, spoke to his brother on Sunday, but had not been able to establish contact since. “We had plans to celebrate Eid on August 11 with my parents and brothers in Kashmir. But, given the situation in the Valley currently, it’s risky to travel there,” said Mohammad Iqbal, 55.

“We request the government to restore communication services in the Valley, to allow us to speak to our dear ones,” he said.

Will ensure students’ safety: UT DIG

Omvir Singh Bishnoi, UT deputy inspector general of police (DIG), said they will ensure the safety of Kashmiri students and residents.

Mohali senior superintendent of police (SSP) Kuldeep Singh Chahal said the district police were on high alert. “All officials have been asked to ensure the security of Kashmiri students and residents, and take necessary steps to make them feel safe here.”

Police officials have been asked to carry out patrolling and set up nakas in their respective areas.

The Union home ministry through an advisory on Monday had asked police chiefs of all states to ensure safety of Kashmiri residents, especially students. Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had also banned celebrations and protests that could lead to unrest.

Mohali deputy commissioner Girish Dayalan said sub-divisional magistrates had been ordered to instil confidence among Kashmiri students enrolled at various colleges in Mohali.

First Published: Aug 07, 2019 23:32 IST