Srinagar, Aug 20 : Life remain crippled in Kashmir valley on Tuesday, due to restrictions and strike since August 5, when Articles 370 and 35A were scrapped by the Centre. According to the officials, there was no report of any major untoward incident during night in the valley, whereas broadband and mobile services remained suspended for the 16th successive day. However, for the first time since August 5, restrictions were eased in the downtown and Shehar-e-Khas (SeK), though business and other activities remained crippled.
All gates of historic Jama Masjid, stronghold of moderate Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq, remained closed and security personnel were deployed to prevent any protest. A large number of central paramilitary forces and state police remained on duty, to prevent any demonstration in the city. The residents alleged that they were facing an acute shortage of essentials, particularly milk, baby food, vegetables and medicines. Milkmen and vegetable sellers from the city outskirts were not able to come in these areas, due to restrictions and strike.
The authorities ordered reopening of primary schools for the first time on Monday, since scrapping of Articles 370 and 35A, but students stayed away from majority of educational institutes. However, in the frontier district of Kupwara, a good number of students attended classes. The Director of Education in Kashmir said zero to 40 per cent attendance was registered in schools on Monday. He said from Wednesday, schools up to middle class, would reopen. Parents said they cannot take any risk by sending their children to schools, as no communication network was available.
They said the situation was still uncertain and nobody knows when clashes would break out. Shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic was off the roads in Srinagar and outskirts for the 16th successive day on Tuesday. In uptown and civil lines areas, private vehicles, mostly two-wheelers, could be seen plying. Even though roadblocks have been removed from most roads in the civil lines and uptown, hundreds of security forces and state police personnel remain deployed, to maintain peace.
Lal Chowk, the nerve center of the city, reopened for civilian movement. Barbed wires and other restrictions around Lal Chowk were removed, though shops and business establishments remained closed. Work in government offices and banks also remained affected, though most employees attended their offices. Reports of shut down were also received from other districts and Tehsil headquarters in the valley. However, the exact situation in these districts could not be confirmed, due to gag on communication. Over 24 youth were arrested during overnight raids in different parts of the city, sources said.
Meanwhile, internet and mobile services of all cellular companies remained suspended since August 4 midnight in Kashmir, where landline services of BSNL have been restored in some parts of uptown. However, landline phones of media houses and journalists remained suspended. Offices of private internet service providers also remained locked. The authorities issued satellite phones to senior bureaucrats and police officers in the valley, where train services also remain suspended since August 5, due to security reasons.
Chairman of both the factions of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz and Syed Ali Shah Geelani remained under house arrest. Two former Chief Minsters - Omar Abdullah and Mebooba Mufti remained in detaintion since August 5, while dozens of other senior mainstream politicians were either under house arrest, or in jail. UNI