Srinagar: There has been no loss of life to any person in the Kashmir Valley during the past 12 days of lockdown, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam said on Friday, and announced that the restrictions will be lifted and life “will become completely normal” as the situation improves over the next few days.
Countering foreign media reports claiming deaths and serious injuries during demonstrations following the revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir, Subrahmanyam said steps were being taken to ease the restrictions in a gradual manner “keeping in view the evolving situation as well as the cooperation of the people in maintaining calm and peace”.
Pakistan has been using the foreign media reports to whip up international opinion against India on the Kashmir issue.
The Chief Secretary, who is known to be key to the government’s moves on Kashmir, said that after the Friday prayers, “there would be an easing of restrictions in the next few days in an orderly way”.
He announced that schools would open from Monday “area-wise” so that children’s studies do not suffer.
“As movement restrictions are removed area-by-area, public transport will start moving in these areas,” he said, announcing that government offices were made fully functional from Friday.
On restoring mobile connectivity, which was cut off across the Valley since August 4, he said that it would be gradually restored in a phased manner, “keeping in mind the constant threat posed by terrorist organizations in using mobile connectivity to organize terror actions”.
Subrahmanyam said that 12 of the 22 districts were functioning normally with some limited night-time restrictions in five of them.
“The measures put in place have ensured that there has been not a single loss of life or serious injuries to anyone during the course of maintaining peace and order. We have prevented any loss of human life despite concerted efforts by the terrorist organizations, radical groups and continuing efforts by Pakistan to destabilize the situation,” he said.
On the detention of politicians, including former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, besides others, the official said that “preventive detentions are being continuously reviewed and appropriate decisions will be made based on law and order assessments”.
“It is expected that over the next few days, as the restrictions get eased, life in Jammu and Kashmir will become completely normal. This is already visible on the roads which have seen steady return of regular traffic,” he said.
He said that the preventive detentions had been made “in accordance with the provisions of the law to maintain law and order and avoid breach of peace”.
“Similar measures were taken in the past following violent incidents,” he said. “This time these measures have been taken by way of precaution, keeping the safety and well-being of public at large.”
Stressing that “it is the cooperation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that is critical to help maintaining peace and public order”, Subrahmanyam said that the administration’s focus was on the “earliest return to normalcy while ensuring that terrorist forces are given no opportunity to wreak havoc as in the past”.
Referring to the revocation of Articles 370 and 35A that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and the state’s division into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh, he said: “The government’s approach was guided by the conviction that all-round development was the most credible solution to address separatist sentiments that were propagated by vested interests. Such sentiments were being utilized to legitimize a policy of cross-border terrorism that has cost the lives of thousands of inhabitants of the state and the country.
“The intent of terrorist attacks was to create an atmosphere of fear and terror and to block development that could unleash opportunities for the younger generation of the population,” he said and named the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen terror outfits.
“Their record has been recognized by governments worldwide and by international organizations, including the United Nations.”
Keeping in view the history of cross-border terrorism, the government had to put in place certain preventive steps as a precaution while implementing its Kashmir moves.
“An important factor in doing so were credible inputs that such terrorist organizations were planning to undertake strikes in the state in the immediate future. The steps consequently taken included restrictions on free movement, prevention of large gatherings, restrictions on telecom connectivity and closure of schools and colleges.”
The administration made sure that steps were taken to ensure there was no shortage of essential supplies, medical facilities and that hospitals continued to function, electricity, water supply and sanitation services were maintained.
Pilgrims going on Haj and returning from Haj were specifically facilitated and people associated with all these support services had free movement.
“Periodically, there were relaxations in some of these restrictions to enable people to come out for their daily requirements,” he said, adding that a media centre with communication facilities was set up to enable the media to cover events in the state with regular briefings by senior government officials.
Sufficient number of passes were issued to media persons to facilitate reporting by them, he said. “All major newspapers are being published and Satellite and Cable TV networks are operational.”
He said there were prolonged relaxations in the prohibitory orders on Saturday and Sunday (August 10-11) prior to Eid so that people could do their Eid shopping. Relaxations were also given on the day of Eid to enable people to perform Eid prayers which were done in large numbers throughout the state.
“Provisions were made to enable people to go and meet their friends and relatives and exchange Eid gifts. However, some restrictions were required on August 14-15 in view of Independence Day celebrations for which the terror threat perception was greater, particularly in the light of statements from across the border.”