Kashmir limping back to normalcy after 3 months, but state is used to ‘seasonal protests

Written by | October 7, 2016 | 0

Kashmir: It is 3 pm in the afternoon and the Bijbehara-Pahalgam road in South Kashmir can be seen filled with trailers, trucks and tipper trucks preparing to load apple boxes for shipping them outside the Kashmir Valley. It is the harvesting season in Kashmir and people here are busy working in paddy fields, plucking apples and harvesting other crops.

These scenes portray the gradual return to normalcy in the region which was in the grips of turmoil for more than two months, after the killing of the Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani on 8 July.

Immediately after Wani’s killing, thousands of people had come out on streets protesting and hurling stones at the security forces and also private vehicles which dared to defy the shutdown calls given by the Hurriyat-led separatists. The protests were intense with no relaxation in shutdown calendars. In retaliation, government was quick to impose a ‘communication blackout’ by blocking the mobile telephony, internet, and at times cable TV taking Kashmir back to the medieval times.

While the region is limping back to normalcy after incessant protests and shutdowns, the attack on the army camp in Uri in North Kashmir, on 18 September and the reports of subsequent ‘surgical strikes’ by the Indian Army, a few days later brought in another phase of uncertainty.

India’s military action and its flaring tensions with Pakistan got many in the Valley worried about a possible war between the two neighbors. What caused further anxiety was the government’s decision to shift people living near the Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir to safer places.

While the government wanted to move people with a view to minimize civilian casualties in case of Pakistan opening heavy artillery fire on the LoC, the decision nonetheless sparked further rumors and fears about the impending military confrontation between the two nuclear weapons states.

But those rumors and fears appear to have settled down. For now at least.

Private vehicles have resumed plying on the roads and shopkeepers have partially opened shutters to their shops. Villagers from South Kashmir, who had participated for the first time in the current protests, are busy in their orchards and paddy fields for harvesting.

Filed in: National

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