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Article 370 abrogation: Many Jammu residents hail integration as best option

Stranded on the street: Children sleeping on a pavement outside the Tourist Reception Centre in Srinagar as their parents make efforts to leave the Valley.

Stranded on the street: Children sleeping on a pavement outside the Tourist Reception Centre in Srinagar as their parents make efforts to leave the Valley.  

Phone and Internet connectivity continue to be disrupted.

Looking at a nearly deserted road that functions as Jammu’s main outstation bus stand, Shubham Sharma said on Wednesday that though his business of ferrying passengers to Srinagar had taken a hit over the past three days, he was sure that “this [amending Article 370] was the best option, even for Kashmiris.” 

It had been three days since the government imposed restrictions under Section 144, curtailing vehicular movement and shutting off mobile internet services in Jammu, ahead of its announcement of revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and carving the State into two Union Territories on Monday. 

While many Jammu residents welcomed the Narendra Modi government’s move, across the road from Mr. Sharma, Umar, a resident of Srinagar who also runs a tourism transport business, termed it a “betrayal.” 

Umar, who wished to be identified by his first name alone, said he drove from Srinagar overnight to avoid the stone-pelting by protesters, just in order to make a phone call to relatives abroad. Since Sunday night, all phone — mobile and fixed line — services and Internet connectivity in Srinagar has been stopped on government orders.

 

“The government has put us at gunpoint. We had an agreement with India, not with Pakistan, when we joined. Now, they have broken the agreement. What relation do we have left with them? Now, anyone can come and claim Kashmir, be it Pakistan or China,” said Umar, as he waited for information about when he could start driving back to Srinagar, if the roads were open. 

He said that after August 15, Independence Day, is when the real impact of the government’s decision may be known, alluding to the potential easing of restrictions that are expected to be in place at least till then. 

Another Srinagar resident who travelled to Jammu on Wednesday described the situation in his city as: “Everything is fine. There’s a curfew that's all.”

 

In other parts of Jammu, a handful of shops in otherwise busy marketplaces opened on Wednesday for the first time since Sunday, while concertina wire lay on crossings controlled by a large number of security personnel. Schools and colleges remained shut. A senior government official said this was to control the number of people on the streets. 

Standing outside a row of shuttered shops in Gujjar Nagar, Nazeer Ahmad said he should have been home on Monday. A resident of Doda, he said the truck that he was driving broke down on Sunday and needed repairs. But with the workshop closed, he had been stranded in Jammu with no news of his family since Sunday.

 

“The phones aren't working there. I don't know what is happening. Now, only God knows what will happen,” he said. 

For police and government officials in Jammu, things were under control. A senior police official said that there had been no reports of violence, clashes or stone-pelting, but that there had been protests and sloganeering by small groups at Chandimarh and Saaj. 

While top government and police officials said restrictions would be eased out over the next few days, there was uncertainty over when educational institutions would open and mobile internet services restored in Jammu.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 6:34:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article-370-abrogation-many-jammu-residents-hail-integration-as-best-option/article28872391.ece

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