Kashmir cold to Modi’s visit

Residents complain of poor flood relief and police harassment of youth

Updated - March 24, 2016 11:05 pm IST

Published - November 05, 2015 11:02 pm IST - Srinagar:

Policemen check a vehicle in Srinagar on Thursday, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kashmir this weekend. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

Policemen check a vehicle in Srinagar on Thursday, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kashmir this weekend. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

The ruling political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party and the BJP, might be upbeat about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir on November 7, but on the streets there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm.

Javaid Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar’s Jawahar Nagar area, whose three-storey house got damaged in the 2014 September floods, has received not much relief from the government and blames the Centre for this.

“We were asked to go through a lot of paperwork and made to do the rounds of government departments for compensation. But we have received very little,” said Ahmad, who claims that he received only a cheque for Rs. 3,800 so far.

While the government pegged damage to property at Rs. 30,000 crore, the Centre released Rs. 5,039 crore in two years. Around 1,700 house owners received compensation. “Mr. Modi just made promises to flood victims. Despite watching the destruction for himself, he has delayed compensation,” Mr. Ahmad alleged.

Rising border tension

Several residents of Srinagar alleged that ever since Mr. Modi took over the reins of the country, J&K witnessed more violence on the borders and increased militancy.

“The dialogue process with Pakistan and separatists initiated by the previous government had generated hope in the State that political uncertainty will end. However, the hardening position by the present dispensation on Kashmir and Pakistan has dashed that hope,” said Zahid Ahmad, a student.

The police action against youth, particularly those who express dissent through protests and writings, is also fuelling resentment.

“Mr. Modi may bring economic packages but our demand is a democratic space to allow us to express views and an end to harassment of youth in J&K,” said Latief Khan, a shopkeeper in Nowhatta. Most people demanded that the Kashmir problem be looked into, besides the development needs.

“Mr. Modi should go down in history as a pro-resolution leader, not as one who prolonged the suffering in J&K. Anyway we don’t expect much from Mr. Modi, who remained silent on the most heinous crimes against minorities in the country,” said Abir Khan, who runs a private firm in Srinagar.

Normal life disrupted

The security clampdown at public places, arrests and protests on Thursday brought life to a standstill. Work at the Srinagar High Court was affected as the J&K High Court Bar Association organised a protest against the ‘spree of detentions.’

Students at Kashmir University ran a campaign in support of the ‘Million March’ protest planned by Syed Ali Geelani, chairman of a Hurriyat faction. “We have decided to run a face-to-face campaign to make Geelani’s march a success,” said a student. The varsity has decided to cancel all examinations scheduled for November 6 and 7.

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