Lockdown, communication blockade continue in Indian-controlled Kashmir

by Peerzada Arshad Hamid

The massive lockdown and communication blockade imposed by local government continued in restive Indian-controlled Kashmir Tuesday for the 16th straight day, officials said, reports Xinhua.
   Thousands of paramilitary troopers have been deployed across the region in Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir to enforce restrictions and prevent protest and demonstrations.
   Men in uniforms and carrying automatic weapons have set up barricades on roads in a bid to disallow mass free movement of the people.
   Locals in Srinagar city and other townships are facing extreme hardships in getting essentials. Shops and business establishments remain closed and public transport is off the roads.
   Local residents in the region said the communication blockade has affected them seriously and pushed them back to stone age.
   “It is a worst kind of blockade I have come across in the past 30 years of insurgency in the region. The fixed telephone service has been snapped, mobile phone connectivity remains suspended, internet is down. The authorities have literally pushed us back to the stone age,” Shakeel Ahmad, a Srinagar resident told Xinhua.
   “With all means of communication suspended, we don’t know anything about our relatives and friends in other parts of the city and not to talk of ones who are outside Kashmir.”
   Ahmad’s son works as a sales person in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and he has not been able to connect with him during the past 16 days.
   “I used to talk to my son everyday before this but ever since this communication blockade, neither he knows about us nor do we have any information about him,” Ahmad said.
   Indian government on Aug. 5 abrogated Article 370 of the Indian constitution which had guaranteed a special status to the troubled region. Apart from this, the federal government bifurcated the erstwhile region into two Union Territories, which would be governed by the federal government directly.
   Ahead of this major decision, the government snapped all means of communication and imposed strict curfew in the entire restive region, fearing a backlash from the people.
   The authorities rushed in thousands of paramilitary troopers to the troubled region and took almost all the separatist leaders and hundreds of their supporters in preventive detention.
   The two major regional pro-India parties National Conference and People Democratic Party (PDP) have strongly opposed the abrogation of the Article 370.