More than a week into the easing of the clampdown in Kashmir, mobile and internet networks continued to remain suspended in the valley and adjoining areas. While landlines have been made functional in Kashmir, mobile services have been made operational only in Jammu.
The move, the Union government has been saying, is aimed at thwarting any kind of rumour-mongering that is likely to take shape should mobile networks be made functional in the valley. While the region continues to remain under a thick security blanket, the Centre has indicated that it has no imminent plan to lift the communication ban in the region.
The flag of Jammu and Kashmir was brought down at the civil secretariat in Srinagar on Sunday afternoon. The move comes in the wake of the reading down of Article 370 and the passage of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, which bifurcated the erstwhile state into two Union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, earlier this month.
Speaking on the sidelines of former Union minister Arun Jaitley’s funeral on Sunday, Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik who was in the national capital said, “If a communication shutdown helps save lives, then where is the harm? Not a single human life has been lost in these many days.”
Defending the Centre’s move, Malik said at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters on Sunday that the move was aimed at preventing any mayhem in the state.
Malik’s comments came in the wake of fresh clampdowns in Kashmir on Saturday, following Friday’s prayers. A delegation of Opposition leaders led by Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi landed in Srinagar on Saturday, but were prohibited from entering the city.
At the same time, both Malik as well as the home ministry vociferously denied reports and rumours of any shortages in the valley. While Malik said on Sunday that “There is no shortage of essential commodities and medicines in Kashmir, and we have delivered meat, vegetables, and eggs to people’s houses on Eid”, the home ministry spelt out that there was no dearth of essential goods in the region.
“In Srinagar, 1,165 out of 1,666 chemist shops have remained open. The Kashmir valley has 7,630 retail chemist shops and 4,331 wholesale shops. Average 65% are open. Medicines worth ₹23.81 crore have reached end user retail shops in the last 20 days, which is slightly higher than the monthly average,” the home ministry said in a statement.