Kashmir under curfew ahead of first anniversary of revocation of Article 370

Published : August 04, 2020 14:13 IST

At Lal Chowk in Srinagar, CRPF enforcing curfew on August 3 ahead of the anniversary of the revocation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Photo: S. Irfan/PTI

A strict curfew has been imposed in the Kashmir Valley ahead of August 5 that marks one year of revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. The administration justified the move citing inputs that "separatists and Pakistan-sponsored groups are planning to observe August 5 as ‘black Day’."

The Srinagar District Magistrate issued the orders on August 3 by virtue of the powers vested in him under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, restricting movement of people on August 4 and August 5. "Protests are not ruled out. There are specific inputs about violent protests endangering public life and property," read the order which is applicable across all 10 districts of Kashmir. 

However, in view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation, people engaged in essential services are exempted. 

"The preparations start a full 24 hours earlier this year compared to 2019 with Srinagar, and I presume the same is being done across the valley, being placed under strict curfew from tonight for the next two days," Omar Abdullah tweeted, referring to the uncertain days of August 1 to August 4 last year as the Centre went about imprisoning political leaders and passing a resolution to revoke Articles 370 and 35A that ended the exclusive rights of the local people in employment and ownership of property in the erstwhile State.   

The decision to impose a curfew followed the J&K administration marketing its "Naya Kashmir" vision, wherein it claimed that the newly carved out Union Territory had progressed in the direction of decentralisation and economic revival. It listed 10 fields where Governor G.C. Murmu’s regime registered growth; these included the health sector, ease of governance and democratic decentralisation, social sector development, economic revival, implementation of Swachh Bharat mission and skill development and employment.

However, the fact is that in the past one year Kashmir’s economy has suffered losses of Rs.40,000 crore. This was largely because of restrictions in movement, which hit the apple industry badly, and the prolonged Internet shutdown.  The losses were reported in ‘Jammu and Kashmir: The Impact of Lockdowns on Human Rights’, a report compiled by the civil rights group The Forum of Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir and released on July 22.  

High-speed Internet continues to remain suspended, contradicting tall claims of inclusive growth and decentralisation of power. 

Ahead of August 5, a large section of the media got its act together to amplify the message of the government that its August 5 decision has contained militancy and stone-pelting incidents and large gatherings seen at militants’ funerals. Iltija Mufti, daughter of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, tweeted today: "Protest has been contained simply because the state has become a large jail. Locking up everyone can be a strategy to fight crime, but with everyone in, on whose behalf are you fighting crime, anyway?"