EVEN AS J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik warned against “unnecessary panic”, a slew of new orders, by educational institutes, hospitals and government departments, added to the uncertainty across the Valley on Saturday.
About 950 outstation students of the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Srinagar were sent home on Saturday, a day after it announced that classes had been suspended “till further orders”. “This is for information of all the students of the institute that the class work for all courses stands suspended till further order. The above notice stands issued in accordance with the instructions received from the district administration, Srinagar,” said a circular issued by the NIT Registrar’s office on Friday evening.
Professor Rakesh Sehgal, director of NIT-Srinagar, said about 950 students living in the hostels had been sent home. “The administration gave instructions… We don’t take action on our own. I am in touch with the HRD ministry as well,” he said.
But Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Chaudhary said there was a “miscommunication”. “In the wake of unstoppable rumours, heads of all institutions were advised to remain careful. (There was) no advice/ instruction for shutting down any institution. This NIT notice is apparently a miscommunication,” he tweeted.
Sources said about 30 J&K State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) buses took the NIT students to Jammu. “The administration facilitated these buses,” said Sehgal.
Another circular was issued by the principal of the Kashmir Government Polytechnic College in Srinagar asking students to vacate the hostel immediately. “It is notified for the information of all students who are residing in the college hostel to vacate from the hostel immediately and no student will be provided hostel facility till further orders,” it said.
“In view of prevailing situation, it is impressed upon all the employees of this hospital that no employee should leave this station without written permission of the competent authority. Any dereliction in this regard will be dealt with strictly under the rules. All the in-charges of this hospital are hereby directed to ensure the implementation of this direction in letter and spirit,” said an order issued by the Medical Superintendent of the Government Bone and Joint Hospital in Srinagar, the largest orthopedic hospital in the area.
The Chief Medical Officer, Kupwara, issued circular telling senior health officers “to remain stationed”. “Don’t leave the station without the consent of undersigned” and “don’t approve the leave of any officer/ official without consent” of CMO Kupwara, it said.
The Block Medical Officer (BMO), Kupwara, deputed health officers to “look after” the control room. “The team of the following officers/ officials is hereby constituted who will look after the control room. The job of the team will be to look after day-to-day problems related to patients’ care, availability of ambulance on the roads, availability of staff in the hospital,” said the order.
And, in a wireless message on August 2, the J&K Police asked for details of officers/ officials working “in your respective offices”.
Meanwhile, tourists and Amarnath pilgrims began leaving the Valley on Saturday. “About 10,000-15,000 tourists were moved out, by air and road, today,” Tourism Director Nisar Wani told The Sunday Express. “There are only a few hundred tourists left in the Valley, and they will be sent back by Sunday morning,” he said, adding that the Indian Air Force (IAF) was also roped in to airlift the tourists.
Srinagar airport saw a huge rush of passengers. “We were called back from Pahalgam when we were proceeding for the Amarnath Yatra. We reached here this morning, but were told that there are no tickets,” said M Ranjan, a pilgrim from Mumbai.
Migrant labourers have also started leaving the Valley. “We have never seen such panic here. I don’t want to leave because this is my work season. But the government has told tourists and yatris to go back… It is better to leave,” said Naushad Ali, a carpenter from Uttar Pradesh.
At NIT, Srinagar, a fifth semester civil engineering student from Rajasthan said: “I haven’t slept the whole night… my family has been calling me up continuously since yesterday afternoon. They want me to come home soon… I don’t know when I will be back.”
Another student from Andhra Pradesh said he had returned only two days ago, after the summer holidays. “My bags are still packed. I attended classes yesterday, and, in the evening, we came to know that classes have been suspended,” he said.
The new students, accompanied by their parents, had arrived just earlier this week to complete the admission process at NIT. “We arrived here yesterday afternoon. After finishing the paper work, we saw the notification in the evening. We are now going back to our hometown. I will discuss with my family if I should send my son here,” said Ram Kishore, from Patna.