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Centre's JK move blurred line between mainstream parties and separatists, say people of Kashmir

Press Trust of India  |  Srinagar 

The government's move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special status and divide the state into two Union territories have blurred the lines between mainstream political parties and separatists, say many Kashmir residents, hoping that the Supreme Court will come to their rescue and give them their rights back.

The people of the Valley, especially those in Srinagar, are egging political activists of all hues to unite against the decision, which they feel was taken to change the demography of the only Muslim majority state of India.

"This is no more about PDP, NC or Hurriyat. This is about Kashmir, Kashmiriyat and Muslim majority character of the place. We have to be united to defeat the designs of the BJP of changing the demography of the valley," Aijaz Bhat, a businessman, told PTI.

He said the move to divide the state into two Union territories and removing provisions of Article 370 was tantamount to "backstabbing and treachery".

"The governor appointed by the Government of India assured the people of Jammu and Kashmir repeatedly that there was no move to touch the special status of Jammu and Kashmir or divide the state," he said.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference's Omar Abdullah are among several political leaders in the state who have been in custody as the government scrapped provisions of Article 370 and bifurcated the state into the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Now, the people are hoping that the Supreme Court will come to their rescue and restore the special provision.

"Both Article 370 and Article 35A were sub-judice and even BJP general secretary Ram Madhav during his recent visit to Kashmir claimed that the matters were sub-judice and should be dealt by the court," Shoukat Ahmad, a computer engineer, said.

The local Sikhs are also not happy with the developments as they feel that the government decision had given a new lease of life to the separatists while pushing the mainstream parties towards them.

"Today, there is no difference between pro-India people and separatism supporters. They are all united for protecting the special identity of the state," Mohinder Singh, a retired government teacher, said expressing his displeasure over the move and the Centre ignoring the stakeholders.

He said the decision has widened the gulf between various communities in the state.

"Earlier the conflict was restricted to Kashmir valley, now we are hearing that people in Kargil are up in arms and do not want to be part of Ladakh Union Territory. While the situation might be calm in Poonch-Rajouri and Chenab valley regions, we can expect some sort of trouble in these regions as well," Singh added.

While the tourists and Amarnath pilgrims were evacuated by the government last week, thousands of migrant labourers who come to the Valley to earn their livelihood are finding difficult to get back to their homes.

"The locals have been nice to us but there is no point staying back in Kashmir if we cannot find work. The valley has been put under siege and we do not see any hope of normalcy returning anytime soon," Govind Kumar, a labourer from Bihar, said.

Kumar said he and his friends are trying to collect payments from the places where they had worked before the imposition of restrictions so that they could go home.

"The security personnel are not allowing us to even go out for collecting our dues. We have to make early morning walks to our clients' homes for it now. Hopefully, we shall be leaving in a day or two," he added.

The migrant labourers could be seen in large numbers at the tourist reception centre here in the hope of catching a vehicle out of the besieged valley.

The disappointed labourers are also flocking Srinagar airport to get a ticket out of the valley.

"I reached Srinagar a fortnight back for work but today I am returning because the situation is very bad. We are daily wage labourers and cannot survive if this situation continues," Badri, who is painter by profession, said while waiting for his colleagues who had gone to arrange air tickets for Jammu.

Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Choudhary said the administration is helping the labourers to return home.

"Special train coaches from Udhampur/Jammu have been coordinated in view of large number of workers including those going home on Eid," he wrote on twitter.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, August 09 2019. 19:10 IST
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