For perhaps the first time since Article 370 was scrapped and an indefinite curfew was imposed on the state, Jammu and Kashmir Police officials have been able to provide information about the ground reality. When contacted earlier, they would always elude us on the pretext of “gathering more information”. The Quint managed to speak to the Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar and senior superintendents of police from various districts in the Valley.
Collating the numbers given by officials from different areas, the total number of persons under detention seems to be between 1500-2000.
These people have been detained on the charges of arson and stone-pelting. Maximum detentions, around 250, have happened in the Srinagar district. In Bandipora, around 50 people have been detained. And around 70 have been detained in Budgam.
No Ground Reaction To Opposition’s Failed Attempt To Visit Valley
The number of political detainees is around 60. Around 40 of them are at the Sher-i- Kashmir Institute in Srinagar, and around 20 people have been detained in Jammu. Some political workers were held briefly for interrogation and subsequently released. No confirmed numbers have been released by the administration as yet. Only the designated spokesperson, Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal, is allowed to give out any information to the press. When contacted by The Quint, Mr Kansal could only provide sketchy details.
There is little to no response to the failed visit of the delegation of Opposition leaders.
Mainstream politicians do not mean much to the protesters on the streets. The former do not hold any credibility during such crises. The mainstream leaders are pro-statehood, pro-370, and pro J&K flag, but the separatists and those who pelt stones have no faith in the Indian Constitution or the Constitution of J&K, for that matter. When similar protests happened in 2008, 2010 and 2016, the protesters carried the flags of Pakistan, and even that of the Islamic State, but not that of the state of J&K.
After Initial Barriers, Security Forces Have Managed To Move Into Soura
Movement restrictions are still in place in Srinagar downtown. The Kashmiris call it a curfew, the officials call it “restrictions”. No matter what it is called, there is a shutdown in the Kashmir Valley. There’s no call from any separatist outfit or any other organisation. All the shops remain shut for the most part of the day. Some shops open in some areas, including in Srinagar downtown which is under civil curfew, between 7 to 10 AM, and around 7 to 9 PM. Attendance in the government offices is 50-60 percent; most branches of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank remain shut. Skeletal private conveyance is on the roads, but not in Srinagar downtown.
Officials say that the tension is easing out, but in pockets, the security forces are facing problems, particularly in downtown Srinagar, on the road that connects SMHS Hospital and Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences — the Ali Jan road.
On this road, a demonstration had taken place in which eight people had sustained injuries last fortnight. Police officials told The Quint, that this morning, that is, 27 August, around 30 people were arrested in the Soura-Anchar area in the last 24 hours. Videos from Soura had gone viral earlier. Soura had turned into a sort of ‘liberated’ area — where the security forces faced stone-pelting and barricades.
The security forces have now managed to move into Soura. There are security deployments and CRPF patrols on the main road.
Even The Most Sensitive Areas in Srinagar Downtown Are Relatively Calmer
The most sensitive areas of Srinagar downtown such as Nowhatta, Nalamar Road, and the Jama Masjid neighbourhood, are relatively calmer. There have not been more than five incidents of stone-pelting or clashes with the forces in the last four days. In most cases, it is a bunch of 20-30 young men who pelt stones for some time, before being chased away by the forces.
Apart from the death of one truck driver in Bijbehera, there have not been other casualties during stone-pelting. Women and children are not taking to the streets, as was anticipated. After the initial emergency situation in hospitals, no shortage of essential supplies is being reported from the Valley.
(The writer is a Srinagar-based senior journalist. He can be reached@ahmedalifayyaz.)