Curbs eased in Srinagar, streets remain empty
Security vehicles and concertina wires were still visible every few hundred metres but for the first time since restrictions were imposed in the early hours of August 5, they were repositioned partially to allow the movement of people.Updated: Aug 27, 2019 04:44 IST
Restrictions on movement and assembly of people were eased for the first time in three weeks in the old city of Srinagar on Monday but most roads and shops in the neighbourhood wore a deserted look and many residents said they were not in support of the government’s decision to remove Jammu & Kashmir special status.
Security vehicles and concertina wires were still visible every few hundred metres but for the first time since restrictions were imposed in the early hours of August 5, they were repositioned partially to allow the movement of people.
Security forces did not stop people from travelling into the Bohri Kadal, Rajouri Kadal, Khanyar, Nawhatta, Gojwara, Hawal, areas and other parts of the old city that holds at least a third of the city’s 1.2 million residents, and is known as a hub of protests and stone-pelting.
There was heavy deployment of forces outside the gates of the Jamia Masjid, where Friday prayers have not been held in the past three weeks because of the curbs.
“We have been robbed of our distinctiveness in Indian union. Now a demographic change is also imminent. What do you think we should do? We can’t go and open our shops. We will fight in whatever way we can,” said a middle-aged man at Bohri Kadal, referring to local fears of an influx of outsiders disturbing the Muslim-majority region’s social composition.
The administration imposed restrictions and suspended phone and internet lines hours before the central government moved to nullify Article 370, which accorded special status to J&K, and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories. Since then, the restrictions have been eased out in large parts of the Valley, which has recoded sporadic protests.
By Sunday, daytime restrictions were lifted from 72 of the 111 police stations in Kashmir, according to government spokesman Rohit Kansal.
Traffic has swelled in the uptown part of Srinagar but many shops and business remained closed. Public transport is still off the roads and many schools are without students.On Saturday, Kansal said 1,500 primary schools and 1,000 middle schools have been opened.
“The situation remains peaceful but people are still angry. Despite the easing out of restrictions the shopkeepers didn’t open there shops,’’ said Siraj Ahmad, a resident of Raj Bagh.
Officials are hopeful that the situation will further improve in the coming days. “Compared to last week, this week the normalcy is quite visible on the ground. We hope by the first week of next month, the situation will further stabilise,’’ said a senior police officer said on the condition of anonymity.
First Published: Aug 26, 2019 23:32 IST