Restrictions removed from Jammu, Kashmir to be in lockdown on I-Day
An unprecedented communications blackout and restrictions on movement and assembly will continue in Kashmir for some more time but the curbs were fully lifted in Jammu, the government announced on Wednesday as the restive region prepared to celebrate Independence Day.
Additional director general of police Munir Khan said there were localised incidents in various parts of Srinagar and other districts in the Valley, but these were contained and dealt with locally.
“Our biggest endeavour is to ensure there is no civilian casualty,” Khan added.
“Restrictions imposed in Jammu have been completely removed and schools and other establishments there are functioning. Restrictions will continue in some places of Kashmir for some time,” he told reporters.
He admitted to a “few” pellet injuries in Kashmir – the administration had previously not confirmed any injuries related to pellet guns -- that were treated, but insisted that there had been no major injuries since the restrictions were clamped in Kashmir in the early hours of August 5.
Later that day, the central government moved to revoke Jammu & Kashmir’s special status and autonomy, and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.
Since then, large sections of Srinagar and other cities have been barricaded with barbed wires, streets deserted and shops shuttered. With phone lines dead and internet services suspended, local residents have reported difficulties in reaching family members and in procuring essential supplies.
More than 500 political workers have been detained in the past 10 days, and protests have rocked some parts of Kashmir, including in old Srinagar’s Soura region, where thousands of people took out a rally chanting slogans demanding “Azaadi”, according to local residents.
Asked about the number of people detained, Khan said he would not talk about individuals. “In a law and order situation like this, there are different kinds of detention... preventive detention to ensure the established miscreants do not vitiate the peaceful atmosphere... so you have to take preventive steps,” he said.
His comments came on a day Kashmiri politician and former IAS officer Shah Faesal was detained in Srinagar under the Public Safety Act (PSA) after he was sent back to Kashmir from Delhi airport, officials said.
Faesal, who was bound for Istanbul, was detained at the airport in the early hours of Wednesday, they said. His purpose of visiting Turkey was not immediately known, officials added.
The main focus of the administration and the police is now on Independence Day celebrations on Thursday, Khan said. “All arrangements are in place to ensure peaceful celebrations throughout the state,” he added.
Jammu and Kashmir principal secretary Rohit Kansal said the overall situation in the region remained calm. “Further relaxations in prohibitory orders have been given in a large number of areas, including in Srinagar, and these relaxations will continue to be given till this afternoon,” he said.
On all fronts -- civil supplies, national highways, airport, medical facilities -- the situation was normal, Kansal said, underlining that there was no shortage of essential supplies.
“Local authorities, as before, are keeping a close watch on the situation and offering relaxations wherever the situation warrants it,” he added.
Khan said curbs were imposed after assessing the overall situation of that particular area.
“It is not like restrictions are imposed in a generalised manner. After assessing the situation of a particular area, restrictions are imposed... relaxation is also given after assessing the situation (of the area concerned),” the ADG said.
It is for the district administration -- the district magistrate and the superintendent of police -- to assess the situation and take steps necessary to maintain peace, and law and order.