Strike in Valley, day after Shah’s normalcy remarkUpdated: Nov 22, 2019 00:36 IST
SRINAGAR: A day after Union home minister Amit Shah told the Rajya Sabha that normalcy prevailed in Jammu and Kashmir, which the Centre divested of its special Constitutional status and bifurcated into two Union territories on August 5, shops and businesses in Srinagar closed again on Thursday in a protest shutdown.
Private vehicles and public transport services, which resumed three days ago, plied on the roads of the city, but stores in prominent markets and the business nerve centre, Lal Chowk, didn’t open, residents said.
“Yesterday, Union home minister Amit Shah said Kashmir is normal; today’s shutdown is an answer to his statement,’’ said a shopkeeper at Lal Chowk. “The business community had been observing a shutdown since August 5 as they are hurt by the decision to remove the special status of J&K.’’
Shah said in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that orders prohibiting public assemblies had been withdrawn, all schools were open, and hospitals and health centres were functional in the Kashmir Valley. Landline and mobile phone connections are operational, he said, adding that Internet services would be restored when “the local authority deems fit.”
Shah said Urdu and English newspapers and television channels were functioning, and banks, government offices and courts were open.
Following the easing of restrictions on public movement and communication facilities imposed on August 5, a spontaneous shutdown had continued across Kashmir in a sign of local resentment against the Centre’s moves to divest it of its special status and divide the state into two Union territories -- J&K and Ladakh.
On Thursday, the president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Sheikh Ashiq, said the business community had lost more than Rs.10,000 crore and government should take steps to compensate for those losses.
“The restrictions which were started by government were lifted after two-and-a-half months. Nobody is against fresh investment or development. The government, which is always for the welfare of people, should on its own take measures to compensate for the losses to businessmen. Every sector is bleeding,’’ Ashiq told HT.
Meanwhile, security forces detected and defused a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on the Srinagar – Jammu national highway in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, officials said.
The IED was spotted by guards near Ganjipora in Kulgam, following which a bomb disposal squad was called to the spot and traffic stopped on the national highway. After the IED was defused, traffic resumed on the national highway.
“Bomb disposal teams of army and security forces of Kulgam and police reached the spot and on searches, two tin boxes with wires were found. Apparently it looked like an IED and was destroyed,” a police spokesman said.
After several attacks on security forces personnel, the national highway is being guarded by the army, police and the Central Reserve Police Force and during the movement of security force convoys, vehicular traffic is being halted.