SRINAGAR: Thursday was the 20th day of the anti-India uprising that began after Burhan Wani’s killing. In these 20 days, life has acquired a new routine in the Kashmir Valley. This change is the most pronounced in the south Kashmir districts and in the downtown areas of Srinagar.
All essentials — rice, grocery, medicine, bread and fruits — have to be bought in the evening or morning.
In the city, soon after the government forces vacate the streets and civilian protests stop in the evening, vegetable and fruit sellers leave towards mandis (big markets) to buy essentials. In the wee hours of morning, they erect their stalls until 8am to sell the commodities. In most old city (downtown) areas Rainawari, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Safakadal, Gunj Nawa Bazar, Rajouri Kadal, people have taken to eating bread or biscuits over the traditional Kandar Tchut because of the shutdown and restrictions.
“There is no shortage of food material but we have to buy it in the early morning. The milkman continues to supply milk in the morning. Mostly we have to bake bread for ourselves because the local baker is not working,” Showkat Ahmad, a resident of Nawa Bazar, said.
People leave home in the evening to buy medicine for the ill. Although medical shops remain mostly open during the day, restrictions and prevention of movement by local youth force people to stay in their homes.
“We cannot leave home in the day, so we buy medicines in the evening, for weeks ahead. My father is on hypertension drugs and my mother takes insulin. A missed dose aggravates the illness. I prefer to buy stock medicines for days ahead,” Showkat said.
Patient care has been affected because doctors are not available. A patient of Rainawari had suffered a paralytic shock 20 days before the uprising. He was later admitted at a hospital for a week. His attendant, Shameema, said that the patient needed a weekly check-up but this cannot be done now.
“After his illness, we consulted a private doctor whose clinic is at Hazratbal. Since the agitation began I have not been able to take him even once to the doctor. At times when his condition becomes worse, I ask a local pharmacist to give advice. Most of the time it does not work,” she said.
Life in uptown like Hyderpora, Rawalapora, Channapora, Baghi Mehtabab, and Jawahar Nagar is not too hectic either.
The blockade of telephony has made it more difficult. A family in Rawalpora learnt of the death of their son days after he had died in an accident overseas, that too through Facebook. The brother of a slain boy learnt of the death 10 days later, because the brother was in Pahalgam and no one could contact him. On Monday evening, when mobile phones were yet to be restored, my own mother was about to lodge a missing report in the police station as I reached home late (11:30pm) from the office.
In rural areas, particularly in south Kashmir, people rarely face shortage of food because the produce is at their homes, but for medicine they, too, have to go out at odd hours and not the usual.