Curbs, communication clampdown being lifted in Kashmir (Lead)
By Sheikh Qayoom
Srinagar, Aug 17 (IANS) Against the forecast of a doomsday scenario, government agencies have succeeded in preventing any loss of life during the 12-day clampdown in the Kashmir Valley and have started easing restrictions stepwise, officials said.
Against the widespread rumours and malicious propaganda, all hotels in Srinagar and other districts of the Valley functioned with near normalcy during the last 12 days.
Supply of rations through outlets of the state-run public distribution system were maintained in all rural and urban areas of the Valley during the days of clampdown.
The clampdown was imposed in J&K on August 4, a day before both the Houses of the Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, and adopted the resolution to scrap Article 370 and Article 35A, paving way for bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories (UTs) -- Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh sans one.
"Rumours spread by anti-social elements that people had been suffering from severe shortages of medicines, baby food and food items have exposed such elements in the eyes of the common man as there were no shortages of these items anywhere during the period of the restriction," an official said.
Authorities have all along maintained restriction were imposed under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code and were purely preventive in nature.
"All genuine public movement including those of ambulances carrying patients, government servants maintaining essential services etc were allowed from every area where we had imposed restrictions," a senior police officer said.
The restrictions were, however, very strictly enforced in old city areas of Srinagar where no public movement was allowed during the periods of restriction.
Police said even in these highly law and order sensitive areas, people were allowed to come out in the evening to buy milk, medicines, food items etc as deployment of the security forces would be withdrawn for some hours in the evenings in these areas.
Senior police and paramilitary officers assigned law and order duties had to spend sleepless nights during the 12-day long restrictions in the Valley.
"Supervising, monitaring and constantly ensuring that the deployed forces are not provoked to act in panic had been our biggest challenge and with the support of the people, we have successfully met this challenge," said Munir Khan, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Law and Order.
The top cop was thankful to people both in the Valley and the Jammu region whom he said ensured that miscreants were kept at bay and stopped from taking advantage of the fragile law and order situation.
Across the board, senior officers of state administration, police, paramilitary forces and the Army appreciate the contribution made by National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval who spent more than 10 days in the state to ensure that the historic decision taken by the country's Parliament was not used by anybody to stoke anti-national and anti-social passions.
"With the NSA breathing down your neck, how could you not remain on tenterhooks? This first and foremost priority was to ensure that while enforcing the required restrictions, public life and property is protected at all cost. This objective has been achieved successfully," said a senior intelligence officer.
Complete normalcy is still some distance away in Kashmir as life would limp back to normal taking its own time.
Authorities have been able to dispel fears over the bloody fall out of the historic decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central government.
This gives reasonable hope to the common man that complete peace and normalcy might not elude Kashmir for too long now.