If there is no phone connection for 10 days, so be it: J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik

Srinagar/New Delhi: Most of the chemist shops remained open in the Kashmir Valley on Sunday as Governor Satya Pal Malik denied any shortage of medicines and essential commodities in Jammu and Kashmir, and said communication curbs helped save many lives in the state.

In a statement, the Jammu and Kashmir administration said 1,165 out of 1,666 chemist shops in Srinagar remained open on Sunday. The Kashmir Valley has 7,630 retail chemist shops and 4,331 wholesale shops, it said, adding that around 65 per cent shops remained open there. Malik said there was no shortage of medicines and essential commodities anywhere in Jammu and Kashmir and enough stocks were available for people to buy. "In fact, we delivered meat, vegetables and eggs to people's doorsteps on Eid," he said.

Medicines worth Rs 23.81 crore have reached end user retail shops in the last 20 days. "That's slightly higher than the monthly average," the statement said. It said all 376 notified drugs are available at government shops and also private retailers. Sixty-two essential/life saving drugs were also available. "Both categories for 15-20 days stock," it added.

The average delivery time from placement of order is 14-18 hours from Jammu, as most of the distributors are from there, the statement said. Noting that there was some shortage of baby food in the Valley for nearly two days, it said fresh stocks have been received and they are sufficient for the next three weeks. "No cases of overpricing received in 72 test check cases," it added.

Governor Malik, who was in the national capital to pay his last respects to former Union finance minister Arun Jaitley who died on Saturday, also said no life has been lost in Jammu and Kashmir due to any violence in the last 10 days after the abrogation of the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and its division into two Union Territories.

"If blockade of communication helps saves lives, what is the harm?" he told reporters when asked to comment on how long the restrictions will continue. Malik said that in the past, whenever there was a crisis in Kashmir, at least 50 people used to die in the first week itself. "Our attitude that there should be no loss of human life. '10 din telephone nahi honge, nahi honge, lekin hum bahut jaldi sab wapas kar denge. (If there is no phone connection for 10 days, so be it. But, we will restore everything soon)," he said.

Fondly remembering Jaitley, Malik said it was the departed leader who had insisted him to take up the responsibility as the Jammu and Kashmir governor last year. "I was advised by Arun Jaitley to take up the responsibility as Governor. He told me that it will be historic. He also told me that his in-laws are from Jammu," he said.

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