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On flight to Srinagar, anxiety grips passengers

Security personnel patrol a deserted street during restrictions in Srinagar August 7, 2019.

Security personnel patrol a deserted street during restrictions in Srinagar August 7, 2019.  

Some wonder if anyone will receive them at the airport

As Thursday’s first flight from Delhi to Srinagar took off, there were moments of nervousness, anxiety and uncertainty. Some wondered if there would be anyone to receive them at the Srinagar airport, while some others pondered how they would reach their destination.

Amid all this, the discussion centred around the dilution of Article 370 by the Centre. “This is sure to be challenged in the court, how could they just revoke it without consulting the United Nations,” said a young man at the Delhi airport. Another passenger corrected him, “What has the U.N. got to do with it? It should have been be dealt by involving the local politicians.”

A woman Central Industrial Security Force constable from Bihar while frisking a woman passenger asked if the latter was headed to Srinagar. When she answered in the affirmative, the constable asked her if she could look for her fiancé, sub-inspector Amit Kumar, posted with the Central Reserve Police Force. “I have not heard from him for the past three days, his mother is also worried. If you could contact him and tell him we are worried. Is there any way for you to find out about his whereabouts,” the constable asked.

Unable to give any assurances, the woman said with a long face, “we are going home, but we do not know how will we reach home from the airport, will there be some relative to receive us, we don’t know. The phone lines are not working and there is no way we can tell them that we are coming.”

When the constable came to know this reporter too was headed to Srinagar, without wasting a second, she looked for a pen, jotted down her number on a paper napkin and details of her fiancé and asked with tears welled in her eyes, “could you please find him, and let me know about his well being on your return?” She later sent me a photograph of Amit Kumar on WhatsApp.

As the flight is about to take off, the young passengers discuss the video of some men from Haryana dancing at a deserted Lal Chowk in Srinagar.

“Did you see the Haryanvi video viral on Whatsapp, they were dancing at Lal Chowk,” one of them asked. Another replied that it was a video from 2016 as the watchtower seen in the video is undergoing some construction right now and it was an old video.

After the first level security check, there is another one before the passengers embark on the aircraft through the aero bridge. When asked why this second layer of security check, an airline employee said, “It’s due to August 15.” A voice came from behind, “don’t worry, for us it’s always four levels of security.”

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 10:02:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/en-route-to-srinagar-uncertainty-among-passengers/article28875834.ece

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