Srinagar: Indian officials order government staff to return to work amid protests
Courtesy: The Guardian
At least two dozen people were reportedly admitted to hospitals with pellet injuries after violent clashes on Saturday night, almost two weeks on from the Indian government’s abrupt decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status.
Indian army has used teargas, chilli grenades and pellets to disperse protesters. A 65-year-old man died after being admitted to the hospital with breathing difficulties, according to reports.
Officials have downplayed the protests and maintain that the situation remains calm. Over the weekend, however, authorities have re-imposed heavy restrictions in some areas.
On Saturday and Sunday, small groups of teenage boys and young men blocked roads and forced commercial vehicles to turn around – a sign that restive and angry youth may not allow the administration to go ahead with its plan to open government offices.
According to the government of Jammu and Kashmir said 190 schools in the capital, Srinagar, would resume classes on Monday.
In Srinagar’s old city, shops remained closed on Sunday and there was a heavy presence of armed paramilitary personnel, and few people walked the streets.
In the Chattabal neighbourhood, residents told the Guardian that police had detained a man, apparently a fellow policeman, who had stood and watched as a group of young people clashed with officers on Sunday afternoon.
“The police came in armoured vehicles from two sides and fired pellets and tear smoke shells. They then barged inside this house and detained a man,” a local resident said. “If that can be his fate, what will be our fate?” said one of the residents.
Tanveer Ahmad, who runs a shop in a neighbourhood on the western edge of Srinagar city, said he pulled down his shop shutters whenever he saw a police vehicle approaching. “It [may] be normal for [the government] but it is not normal for Kashmiris any more,” he said. “They have locked down everything, so how can anything be normal overnight?
“They say there are few troublemongers. If that is the case, why have they locked [up] every Kashmiri, why have they arrested every political leader, even those who were their own?”
In the run-up to the revocation of Kashmir’s status, the region’s most prominent politicians were detained and an unprecedented communications blackout and curfew was imposed on millions of residents.
“The government is speaking lies to deceive the people and deceive the world,” said Ahmad. “Every aspect of our lives have been impacted. We are living a trauma. My mind is disturbed and everyone we meet at home or outside is tense.”
The government said on Friday that it would restore landlines, but many residents rely on mobiles services and so remain cut off from relatives and friends.