FIVE days into the lockdown in the Valley in the wake of revoking J&K’s special status and its downgrade into a Union Territory, top officials have said the situation should ease in a few days to allow easing of restrictions.
Responding to questions from The Indian Express, K Vijay Kumar, Advisor to Jammu and Kashmir Governor and former CRPF chief, said that there will be “some relaxation” for Friday prayers and a call on security for Eid will be taken on Sunday.
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Excerpts of the interview:
No large scale protests have taken place. There have been a few instances of stone-pelting, mostly restricted to areas around Srinagar city. The forces have been given flexibility to impose prohibitory orders with minimum force and maximum compassion.
Some relaxation will be permitted for Friday prayers. As for Eid, we will take a final call on Sunday. We would like to encourage people to celebrate Eid in the proper spirit while ensuring minimum disruption to public order.
All medical emergencies are being given all possible assistance and facilitation. In many instances, security forces have used their own vehicles to ferry citizens in need of medical aid.
People are being allowed to move around to get essential supplies. A few shops open in each locality in the evening and that is being permitted provided no crowds gather. Arrangements are being made to ensure adequate stocks of essential commodities. These will be distributed with the assistance of the security forces.
The passes are given for specific purposes and are not area-specific or route-specific. We would like to restore freedom of movement as soon as possible. It will be done in a phased manner.
Phone lines are being restored for essential services in a phased manner. In times of emergency people can approach security forces for connecting with their near and dear ones.
Helplines are being set up by the civil administration. As I mentioned, security forces have also been instructed to assist people wherever possible through their own communications network.
Vehicular movement is taking place on the National Highway. There is no blanket ban on travel. Public transport is of course affected and that can only be restored gradually.
I would not like to discuss specific allegations. I am sure that Jammu Kashmir Police and CRPF authorities will look into any complaint against them.
Meanwhile, S M Sahai, Additional Secretary of the National Security Council, the topmost security body under National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, said: “I am optimistic the restrictions would be removed in a few days.” He said there has been no casualty on the ground so far. Speaking during a panel discussion, Sahai said communication lines were cut off to stop misuse of social media to spread misinformation and rumours.
“It is only for days,” he said. Despite Pakistan’s efforts to create trouble in Kashmir, the situation, he said, will improve with the support of the people who have welcomed J&K’s integration with India.