Kashmir Indepth

“If There’s No Phone For 10 Days, So Be It”: J&K Governor Defends Move

Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Sunday claimed that there is no shortage of essential commodities and said the lack of communication lines is a better option than loss of lives. Jammu and Kashmir has been cut off from the rest of India for nearly three weeks to prevent a backlash since the government ended the special status of the state and bifurcated it into two union territories.

“In all the crises that happened in Kashmir in the past, at least 50 people used to die in the first week itself,” Mr Malik was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. So far, no deaths have been reported from the state and the authorities say only sporadic violence has taken place.

“Our attitude is such that there should be no loss of human lives. If there’s no telephone for 10 days, so be it. But we will roll back these measures very soon,” said Mr Malik, who was in Delhi on Sunday to attend the funeral of former Union Minister Arun Jaitley.

Earlier this month, ahead of the government’s announcement phone and internet connectivity were snapped, more than 50,000 additional troops were stationed and prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were issued as part of a multi-level preventive measures. The government said these temporary measures would be lifted in phases by the local administration on the basis of the ground situation.

Three weeks on, phone connectivity is yet to be restored in parts of Jammu and a huge portion of Kashmir Valley. Prohibitory orders are still in place and despite administration orders, many schools have not opened.

The state administration has said of the 97 telephone exchanges, only 25 are functioning. The five cater to nearly 35,000 land lines the rest had only and remaining 75 exchanges have only 14,000 numbers.

Mr Malik said the situation is moving towards normal. “There is no shortage of essential commodities and medicines in Kashmir. In fact, we delivered meat, vegetables, and eggs to people’s houses on Eid… your opinion will change in 10-15 days,” Mr Malik was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The government has earlier claimed that saving lives and proper maintenance of law and order in the wake of its Kashmir move was its priority. It had told the same to the Supreme Court when some of its measures – including stationing of more than 50,000 troops and issuing prohibitory orders banning large gatherings – were challenged.

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