Normalcy returning to Indian Kashmir

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Muslims purchase food and vegetables during a lockdown in Srinagar on August 10, 2019. AFP

JAMMU (PTI) – All schools and colleges reopened in the five districts of Jammu, Kathua, Samba, Udhampur and Reasi and government offices witnessed an increase in attendance, officials said.

All marketplaces and shops have reopened and normal movement of traffic has resumed particularly in Jammu city.

The Kargil region also witnessed a heavy rush in markets and other business establishments as people enthusiastically shopped for Eid-u-Azha. Banks, colleges and schools were also functioning normally, they said.

All schools and colleges reopened in the five districts of Jammu, Kathua, Samba, Udhampur and Reasi and government offices witnessed an increase in attendance, the officials said, adding that curfew was also eased in Doda and Kishtwar districts.

A senior official said the situation was returning to normalcy and there had been no reports of any untoward incident in the Jammu region since August 5, when restrictions were imposed in the wake of abrogation of provisions of Article 370 that gives special status to the state.

“All kinds of restrictions have been withdrawn in these [five] districts and all educational institutes have reopened today,” the senior official told PTI.

The officials said that in Kashmir, after the restrictions were eased, there was an increase in traffic on roads and some shops also opened in a few areas. Street vendors returned to the roads of Srinagar and people were seen purchasing fruits and other items from them.

The Union Home Ministry said over the weekend that there have been a few stray protests in Kashmir Valley in the past few days against the scrapping of special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and none of these involved a crowd of more than 20 people.

“There have been a few stray protests in Srinagar/Baramulla and none of these involved a crowd of more than 20 people,” a ministry spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also dismissed a media report about a protest by about 10,000 people in Kashmir as “fabricated and incorrect”.

Continuing his outreach to people of Kashmir, National Security Advisor (NSA) visited Anantnag in South Kashmir and interacted with cattle traders and people ahead of Eid.

All marketplaces and shops have reopened and normal movement of traffic has resumed in these districts, particularly Jammu city, bringing relief to the people.

The officials said restrictions continued in Poonch, Rajouri and Ramban districts.

Administrations of 10 districts in Jammu region had imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC on August 5.

Kishtwar District Development Commissioner Angrez Singh Rana said the curfew was relaxed in a phased manner in different parts of the town uptill 7 pm.

“The curfew was first relaxed area-wise from 12.30 pm to 1.30 pm and 3.30 pm to 5 pm and was extended till 2 pm and 7 pm,” Rana told PTI.

The officials said that curfew was relaxed in Bhadarwah town and it’s adjoining areas in Doda district in a phased manner.

In Kargil, the three-day-long strike and protests against revoking of provisions of Article 370 were called off by Join Action Committee (JAC).

Government and private offices were functioning normally and public transport and private vehicles were also seen plying on the highways and city roads, officials said.

Meanwhile, Kargil Deputy Commissioner Baseer Ul Haq Choudhary in a statement said that all arrangements are in place to ensure that the people’s requirements for ration, medicines and other essentials are met fully.

Notwithstanding the restrictions, Kashmiris were returning to the Valley from other parts of the country and abroad for Eid celebrations.

Desperate to make their way home, hundreds of migrant labourers also continued to arrive at Jammu and Udhampur railway stations from Kashmir region, with many complaining that they were not paid fully by their employers and overcharged by private transporters.

Over 60,000 labourers and tourists have arrived in Jammu, Udhampur, Katra and Pathankot from the valley since August 5.

Over 50,000 labourers have travelled on trains to their respective states so far and Jammu and Udhampur railway station are packed with people looking to make their way home, the official said.

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