The Indian government recently revoked the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir, the most far-reaching political move on the volatile region in nearly 70 years. A presidential decree issued on August 5 revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution that guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including the right to its own constitution and autonomy to make laws on all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs.
In the lead-up to the move, India sent thousands of additional troops to the volatile region, imposed curfew, shut down telecommunications and internet, and arrested political leaders. Massive security restrictions were imposed and the centre took measures that included arresting politicians and posting extra troops to prevent any backlash.
It’s been over 100 days since the communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir. However, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said that the situation is normal in Jammu and Kashmir and internet services in the Valley, which have remained suspended since abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, will be restored soon.
Replying to the opposition’s questions on the situation in Kashmir, Shah said: “As far as internet services are concerned, the decision can be taken by the Jammu and Kashmir authorities. There are activities by Pakistan too in Kashmir region, so keeping security in mind, whenever the local authority deems it fit, a decision will be taken.”
Shah said that while the internet was an important tool of communication, security concerns needed to be taken into account.
The Home Minister said “We heard leaders saying that there would be a blood bath on the streets of Srinagar but nothing of this sort happened. I am happy that not one person has died due to police firing. The number of incidents of stone-throwing has come down from 805 to 544. All the newspapers and TV channels are functioning smoothly in Kashmir. There is no decline in the circulation of newspapers”
On the concerns of apple growers in the valley after the targeted killings of transporters by terrorists, Shah said, “Over 22 lakh metric tonnes apples have already been transferred out of the region. Transportation is smooth. The farmers have been provided additional help. 93,247 landlines have opened up. All 59 lakh mobiles are working.”