Normal life hit in Valley; Internet blackout enters 101st day

Srinagar: Internet services across all platforms continued to be suspended in Kashmir for the 101st day on Wednesday following the abrogation of certain provisions of Article 370 and normal life remained disrupted due to the ongoing unannounced shutdown, officials said.
They said despite growing demands for restoration of the internet services, especially from the journalistic community, there is no word from the authorities on it.
Media persons had held a protest march on Tuesday, demanding immediate resumption of internet facilities.
All communication lines — landline and mobile phone services and internet services — have remained suspended since August 5, when the government of India revoked the special status accorded to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and announced the decision to bifurcate it into two Union territories.
While landline and postpaid mobile phone services have been restored in the Kashmir Valley, prepaid mobile phone and internet services remain suspended.
The officials said there are apprehensions that “vested interests” might misuse the internet services to create a law and order situation in the valley and a decision to restore these facilities would be taken at an appropriate time after assessing the situation.
The GoI’S August 5 decision led to an unannounced shutdown in the valley due to which normal life in the valley has remained disrupted.
The markets across the valley have been following a new pattern of functioning, opening early morning till around the noon and then closing to join the protest against abrogation of the special status of the state, the officials said.
This was also seen on Wednesday, they said.
They said “miscreants and militants were resorting to fearmongering” to put down any resistance to the shutdown by threatening shopkeepers and businessmen.
The officials said two grenade attacks in the city’s busy Goni Khan market and Kaka Sarai areas recently were an indication that concerted efforts were being made to keep the shutdown going.
The movement of public transport in the city here is limping back to normal as mini-buses have started plying, according to the officials.
Inter-district cabs and auto-rickshaws also ply in the city and elsewhere in the valley, they said, adding that private transport was plying unhindered.
Most of the top-level and second-rung separatist politicians have been taken into preventive custody while mainstream leaders, including two former chief ministers — Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest.
The government has detained former chief minister and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah under the controversial Public Safety Act, a law enacted by his father and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1978 when he was the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister.

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