Wednesday, February 19, 2020

“Will We Succumb to Militants?” J&K Govt advertisement asks

Straight Line News Network

Srinagar, Oct 11: Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday issued a full-page advertisement in local newspapers urging people to end the self-imposed shutdown that took shape after the government restrictions were lifted after the scrapping of the state’s special status on August 5.

It has partly been a ‘people’s curfew’ that has kept them indoors and in the advertisement, threats by militants asking residents to observe a complete shutdown in protest of the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 have been blamed.

The self-imposed lockdown has managed to puncture the government’s claims of normalcy returning to Kashmir as images show desolate streets, closed markets and empty institutions.

In a full-page advertisement in English dailies, the government blamed the prevalent militancy and their “vicious campaign” and “motivated propaganda” for perpetuating the shutdown.

“For over 70 years now, the people of J&K have been misled. They have been victims of a vicious campaign and motivated propaganda that has trapped them in an endless cycle of terrorism, violence, destruction and poverty,” the advert read.

Although the government has reopened schools and colleges, students have been staying away while shopkeepers have kept their shops shut. Public transport has also stayed off the roads and petrol pumps open only for half the day as people refuse to step out of their homes in popular response to the recent change in the state’s constitutional status.

The advert attributes this self-imposed lockdown to the people’s fear of attacks from militants who have “instigated the common people to push their children into violence, stone-pelting and hartals.”

“We are at crossroads today,” the notice declares in bold letters as it goes on to pose questions to the people of Kashmir on whether they will “permit the age-old tactic of threats and coercion” to influence them. “Will threat and misinformation prevail or will we take informed decisions on what’s best for us?” it added.

The Narendra-Modi led government on August 5 sent in thousands of additional troops, imposed a sweeping curfew, arrested thousands, and cut virtually all communications the Valley in the wake of its decision of stripping the region of its special status and downsizing it into two union territories.

The people, however, have refrained from stepping outside their homes even as restrictions issued in early August—to close down educational institutions and offices, blackout telecommunication and impose Section 144, preventing the assembly of five or more people in public—were gradually relaxed.

The government has maintained that the abrogation of the region’s semi-autonomy was necessary for development and eradication of “terrorism” in the region. “This is our home, it is for us to think of its well-being and prosperity, why fear?” the advert adds in the end.

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