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Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on January 13, 2020 with No Comments

It has been five months since the Narendra Modi’s Government moved article 370, but there is no sign of ‘normalcy’ yet. However, the Home Minister Amit Shah has claimed from the parliament that there is normalcy in the Kashmir Valley. The situation is far from reality, perhaps for the Home Minister the normalcy is all linked to stone pelting by youth, which certainly has come down. Rather there has not a single case since August, mainly as the valley has been more under a curfew like situation.

Also for those in the government and following the ideology of the ruling party the BJP, it doesn’t matter than three former Chief Ministers of the state are under house arrest and one of them even happens to the a Member of the Parliament. That’s “normalcy” for them.

The civilians from Jammu and Kashmir are in severe distress. A report by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, businesses in the Valley alone have made a loss of Rs 18,000 crore since 5 August and nearly 5 lakh people have lost employment. The numbers would go north if the figure from the Jammu and the bifurcated area of Ladakh is added.

For Kashmir, the business lifeline has been Apple trees and Tourist. Because the farmer couldn’t venture out of his house to even take care of the tress laden with apple, and the early and heavy snowfall have added to their woe. These farmers have lost their earnings for a complete year and now face a daunting task to ensure a good crop next year.

Hotel and transportation business that are dependent on the tourist have been the most affected. In the region of Jammu alone, revenue of 300 hotels, and close to 1500 taxis dried up. Add to that the figure of the valley, the number of those in financial doldrums would increase manifold.

Many small restaurant owners had to shut their shop. In the month of July an opportunity in the form of online food delivery services such as Swiggy and Zomato came as a boon for these small restaurants. Then, suddenly, the BJP government stopped internet, and all came to standstill.

While the Muslims of the valley have been expressing shock over the treatment being received, the Hindus in the area of Jammu who were always in favour of BJP, now have started expressing shock as well as anger. Most of them being traders, feel that the clampdown affected the supply and demand. While they couldn’t send their goods out of the state, the regular supply of pershirable items from the plains was affected leading to sharp increase in prices. Those of daily wages were deprived of their earnings. And now the fear that if people from the rest of India come, they will take away our jobs, is rampant among the masses there. Merchants too in the area of Jammu region who welcomed the Article 370 move were now feeling adverse.

Those who were making some money by selling phone cards are now being reminded of Narendra Modi’s impetus for Digital India. Narendra Modi had hailed ‘Digital India’, saying that common service centres providing digital services to people were “rendering ‘anytime-anywhere connectivity’” to every citizen in villages through “optimal utilisation of information technology”. However, he conveniently forgot to add that these services were hardly applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. These services could only be restored in the first of January that were suspended on August 5 2019.  

With no access to Internet, the publication of most newspapers was stopped in Srinagar after 5 August. The problems were many-fold. Journalists couldn’t move around, there was a clampdown on all communication mediums, and news was being censored.

With almost all indexes of growth pointing downwards, is it apt for the government to claim it is normal in Kashmir? Traders, daily wage earners, restaurant owners, food providers, internet card providers, apple farmers –almost people for all strata getting affected, is it right for the government to say with  thumping of chest that it is normal in Kashmir? Prominent political leaders but from the ruling BJP being kept under house arrest for close to 6 months, can the Narendra Modi Government still claim –“Normalcy Restored”? A state that used to thrive on foreign tourist, hasn’t seen one since August 5th, and with 87 percent drop in domestic tourists ; is it “Normalcy”?


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