It is exactly three weeks since the Indian government announced its unilateral decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The state stands bifurcated into two Union Territories to be governed directly from New Delhi.
Before making the announcement on August 5, the government put the state under military lockdown, snapping communication lines, arresting political leaders and immobilising free movement in the Valley. In the weeks since then, the government has repeatedly claimed the situation on the ground is “normal” – an assertion that redefines the meaning of normalcy, in light of the 21 facts listed here.
- Three weeks later, mobile phones services are still not working in Kashmir. The government claims to have restored some landline phone connections but the central telephone exchange remains shut. Kashmiris outside the state are still struggling to speak to their families.
- Many people in the Valley are travelling long distances to use phone services at special centres set up by the administration. At one centre in Srinagar, five mobile phones are used by 500 people visiting daily.
- Internet remains shut across the Valley – both mobile and broadband services are not working. Even postal services have been suspended.
- Newspapers in Kashmir have not been able to update their websites and social media pages, even though some have been able to resume limited circulation of their print editions.
- News remains hard to gather – not just in Kashmir, but also parts of Jammu. To send their dispatches, journalists in Srinagar have to rely on one official media facilitation centre with limited facilities – four computers and a mobile phone.
- Three former chief ministers, along with hundreds of other political leaders, remain under arrest or detention. They are not being allowed to meet their families.
- Political party offices remain deserted – other than that of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
- Nearly 4,000 people have been detained across the Valley. Many have been shifted out of Kashmir because the prisons are too full to hold them, said an official.
- Not all those detained are politicians and stone pelters. Some are traders and businessmen. Their families have been denied access to them.
- Opposition leaders flew to Srinagar on August 24 but were sent back from the airport. The administration claimed this was to prevent “inconvenience” to the public, even though members of the public on the flight had complaints to make.
- The media crews accompanying the Opposition delegation were manhandled by security personnel. A TV reporter gave this account.
- Local journalists continue to face hostility from security forces. They have been forced to delete footage.
- More than 150 people have been brought to hospitals with tear gas and pellet injuries.
- Protests continue to be staged steadily in some neighbourhoods of Srinagar. The slogans include “India go back” and “one solution, gun solution”.
- Markets continue to be largely shut across the Valley. Only medical stores remain open.
- Public transport services have not resumed even though private taxis can be seen on the roads.
- The shutdown is being observed spontaneously by people, not in response to a call by any organisation or leader. People say this is a form of protest to “tire out the government”.
- Despite official orders to resume work, attendance in government offices remains low. Government employees have been travelling to work in informal clothes to avoid detection by protestors.
- Schools have formally reopened but children are missing. Parents are still not sending them to school out of concern for their safety.
- Patients are unable to call for an ambulance. Reaching hospitals remains difficult with healthcare access compromised.
- The government maintains there is an adequate supply of medicines in Kashmir, but pharmacists have reported shortages. The families of sick people are travelling long distances in search for medicines. In one case, a young man flew to Delhi to buy medicines for his grandmother.
Respond to this article with a post
Share your perspective on this article with a post on ScrollStack, and send it to your followers.