Incomplete information, households stocking up on essentials and the frustration of not being able to communicate with family. This was the refrain from Kashmiris who have travelled to Delhi from Srinagar Tuesday, three days after the information lockdown in the Valley.
At the Delhi airport, Kashmiris told The Indian Express that they know little of the situation across the Valley, a day after the Centre moved to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, even as communication and Internet services continue to remain suspended.
“Since late Sunday night, we have not had mobile, landline, broadband or cable connectivity. The only source of information has been satellite television, and because of that people are aware that we no longer have Article 370. At least one household in a locality must have a satellite dish, so I think most people in Srinagar, at least, must be aware that this has happened,” said a 44-year-old Srinagar resident, who has travelled to Delhi for work.
Gauhar Hussain Wani (43), who runs a shawl business, said, “When we heard that the Amarnath pilgrims were being asked to leave, everybody knew that something was going to happen so we stocked up on rice, dal and other supplies…”
Others arriving in Delhi spoke of the rumours flying across the Valley.
“For the past 12-15 days, there were rumours that something is going to happen, but the government had assured that these were just ‘rumours’. Now that there’s no communication and only resentment and word-of-mouth, I have heard another rumour that 10-12 people have died somewhere, which I do not think is trustworthy,” said a businessman, in Delhi for a meeting.
People also spoke of heavy militarisation and subdued streets.
“We travelled from Baramulla to Srinagar airport this morning, and there was a ‘crew’ of security personnel every 50 metres…,” said a 24-year-old woman, who works in Delhi.
She and her husband had travelled to their homes in Baramulla last week to get married. The night after the last ceremony, all communication channels snapped. Landing in Delhi to begin their life together, they are worried because they cannot tell their families that they have reached safely.
Among those arriving in Delhi were also those who have left the state in search of greener pastures, such as Mudasir (32) who has left his job in Srinagar.
“I have come here with five other former colleagues. We have all lived in Srinagar since we were born and worked for a private company there. After yesterday’s developments, we quit our jobs and came here because all business and life has come to a complete halt back home,” he said.
A Delhi-based academic visiting Kashmir University for work spoke of a deserted campus. “I was sent to the airport in an ambulance because all other vehicles had been deployed in sending students from different parts of the state to their hometowns…. On the way to the airport, I saw a couple of shops selling milk and roti which were open, everything else was shut,” he said.