Normalcy returning to Indian-controlled Kashmir after 133 days of shutdown

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Kashmiri women carry cow dung to be used as fertilizer as they walk in a mustard field in Bijbehara, about 55 km south of Srinagar, summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, April 5, 2015. (Xinhua/Javed Dar)
Kashmiri women carry cow dung to be used as fertilizer as they walk in a mustard field in Bijbehara, about 55 km south of Srinagar, summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, April 5, 2015. (Xinhua/Javed Dar)

Routine activities resumed across towns and major villages Saturday after a period of 133 days of shutdown. Markets opened up for business, abuzz with activity. People flooded here to purchase essentials.

Public transport hit roads and traffic was also seen plying normally. At many places and intersections, people have to bear the massive traffic jam for hours together.

Offices, both government and private, became functional and recorded a full attendance.

The region has witnessed massive protests over the past more than four months. At least 90 people, most of whom teenagers, were killed and over 14,000 injured (including those blinded and maimed) in police and paramilitary shootings while controlling public protests.

Each death has triggered more protests despite government measures to impose a strict curfew across the towns.

The relaxation has come at a time when the region is grappling with the violent unrest.

On Thursday, a 75-year-old man succumbed to his wounds in hospital. He was hit by a tear smoke shell earlier this month, fired by government forces.

Protests have been on since July 8 following the killing of a popular militant commander in a gunfight with Indian troops.

The continuous shutdown of 133 days has been so far the longest in the region’s troubled history.

The unrest has mounted pressure on local government headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti which is struggling to bring the situation under control. It has requisitioned several companies of additional paramilitary troopers and intensified night raids to curb street protests.

Authorities have arrested dozens of separatist leaders and young men on the charges of fomenting trouble or pelting stones. Most of them have been detained under Public Safety Act (PSA).

The local government has sacked 12 officials allegedly for their role in fuelling ongoing turmoil.

A local english daily – Kashmir Reader has been banned after authorities cited its content “tends to incite violence and disturb peace and tranquility.”

A guerrilla war is also going on between militants and the Indian troops stationed in Indian-controlled Kashmir over the past two decades. Gun fighting between militants and Indian army troopers takes place intermittently.

Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan, is claimed by both in full. Since their independence from Britain, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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