Valley in distress

Posted On Oct 18 2019 by

first_imgAs soon as the government advisories which sought evacuation of pilgrims and tourists from the Kashmir Valley came into effect, the Valley effectively slid into utter confusion. The build-up of troops and the evacuation both were evidently accounted as preventive measures in the wake of anticipated security threat to Kashmir from terror outfits backed by Pakistan. However, the regional political parties of the Valley could not digest ambiguity and a delegation from NC led by Omar Abdullah met with Governor Satya Pal Malik. Governor’s remarks were not very convincing but, as matters stand, could not be any better. The Governor opined that though he has no knowledge of the fate of Kashmir’s special status, he was convinced that everything is normal as of now. But the Governor asserted one thing for certain that he has no clue what may come tomorrow. Therefore, his response, evidently, did not convince the National Conference leader Omar Abdullah who now seeks a response on apprehensions around Section 370 and 35A and trifurcation directly from the Centre. The security advisory created panic in the Valley as pilgrims and tourists had to make reservations for their unplanned return. The drastic rise in the footfall resulted in a surge of airfares amounting to Rs 11,000-18,000 from Srinagar to Delhi. The Civil Aviation Ministry intervened and asked the airlines to bring down airfares for pilgrims but pilgrims aren’t the only ones who may have to fly out of the Valley. In fact, the advisory also asked NIT students from Srinagar to leave and not return until further orders. With the additional deployment of troops to the Valley and security advisory in place, curfew has been activated on streets which saw locals rushing to gather groceries, food, petrol and other essentials for future. While this is not something new to Kashmir, the uncertainty that has befallen over the state has no trail of justification but the over-used expression of a “terror threat”. The anticipation of a Pakistan-backed terror attack on pilgrims is not out of question. It is well-understood that the Valley is at the edge and any such attack would cause massive damage which is best to be avoided. Without pilgrims and tourists, the ground is clear for any military engagement should there be a need but for the locals, it is the same old story. As the citizens dwell in confusion, having no clue about why security measures have been beefed up, regional political players like Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti–who took a delegation of several parties to Governor on Friday–demand answers. The security advisory issued by the government had ripples reaching international waters as Britain and Germany warned their citizens against travelling to Kashmir. Home Minister held a meeting yesterday with top security officials of the country allegedly over the burning issue of Kashmir which has witnessed a lot of mobility in the past few hours, all based on the security advisory. The rumours are still floating whether all this is in the wake of Centre planning to do away with Article 35A that provides exclusive rights to the state’s residents in government jobs and land. Should any such move be initiated, intense protests will break out as Article 35A is one of the privileges that came with the accession of Kashmir to India. Additional troops could be instated to control the possible breakdown of public order in the wake of such a step but uncertainty does not let anything be corroborated enough at this stage. Under the President’s rule currently, Kashmir should be heading towards Assembly elections if anything but as matters stand, it looks more like a lockdown scenario. Though the presence of troops in numbers, security advisories as well as to and fro movement of the Army is something Kashmir is well accustomed to, however, combined with the evacuation of pilgrims and tourists, the situation has caused severe distress amongst locals. The status quo that Kashmir is in right now needs to be resolved soon, paving way for the resumption of normal affairs.last_img read more