A year of loss and fear

A year of loss and fear

Srinagar: Crippled economy, muzzled media, loss of jobs, business, tourism and education, houses damaged in encounters, youths killed in gunfights, and an ever-increasing sense of insecurity among the common people have been the outcome of the abrogation of Article 370.
Dr Sheikh Showkat, professor of law, told Kashmir Reader that things have visibly gone worse since the abrogation. The region has been turned into a prison, he said.
“The only visible development one can see here is the increased violence, more Indian troops on ground, barricaded roads and concertina wires,” he said.
On Tuesday Showkat wrote on Twitter, “We remain besieged, not defeated. Not material resources but it is conviction and ideology that sustains a nation through turbulent times.”

Internet services were snapped in Jammu and Kashmir on August 4 last year. They remained banned for almost six months. High-speed internet is still blocked. The Amnesty International has described the internet shutdown in Kashmir as one of the longest in any democracy.
Shut schools
On August 4, 2019, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir ordered closure of schools without giving any specific reason. Child psychologists and parents say that the fallout of the decision has badly impacted children’s education while mounting on them psychological pressure with each passing day.
“There is no education for our children now. For the past one year our children have been confined in their homes like prisoners in a jail,” said Mohammad Irfan, a parent.
In Jammu and Kashmir, there are 25 lakh students studying in more than ten-thousand schools, as per the Director of School Education, Dr Younis Malik.
“We are trying everything to compensate for the loss of education that our children have suffered. We have been pretty much successful in doing that,” Malik said.
However, students say that due to the slow internet and the endless lockdowns outside, they are not able to focus on their studies.
“It has been very hard since the day schools were closed. It is a very depressing situation for us,” said Muheeb Ahmad, a Class 9 student.

Loss of livelihood
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) has estimated that economic losses incurred by Kashmir businesses since August 5, 2019, are about Rs 40,000 crore. More than five lakh people have lost jobs in this period as well, according to the KCCI.
Sheikh Ashiq Hussain, KCCI president, told Kashmir Reader, “It is a harrowing situation. The losses are huge and I do not think that in any part of the world the business community can show as much resilience as we are showing.”
He added that almost all sectors, from tourism to handicrafts, have been hit hard after Article 370 was abrogated and thousands of people associated with these sectors have been rendered jobless.
In January this year, when restrictions were partially lifted, some businesses started opening but soon were closed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unending violence
Despite the UN calling for a global ceasefire amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation in Kashmir region has not changed at all.
In the first half of 2020, the Jammu and Kashmir region has seen 229 killings, as per a report of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS).
In 107 CASOs, 48 residential structures were damaged, as per the report, which also lists 55 internet shutdowns.

Media muzzled
In late April this year, photojournalist Masrat Zahra was booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for her social media posts. Journalist Peerzada Ashiq was questioned for a story and within a few days after that, senior journalist Gowhar Geelani was booked under the UAPA.
Asif Sultan, journalist with Kashmir Narrator, has been in jail for the past two years.

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