Srinagar: Life has come to a standstill for Abdul Rahim and his family, living in Kulgam district of South Kashmir. It is over 10 days since the lockdown began and the family is feeling the pressure of dipping cash and food reserves. Kulgam has been a hotbed of militancy for the last several years, and many militants have been killed there.
Security, therefore, is tight and restrictions are in place. “People are suffering, stocks are drying up, we are worried what is in store for us in the future,” said Abdul Rahim who owns a fruit orchard.
His nephew, Mohammad Sufiyan (17), says, “Compared to the 2016 unrest following the killing of Burhan Wani, the situation is peaceful in Kulgam presently.”
However, Sufiyan, a second-year college student, laments missing his studies: “I’ve not gone to college since the lockdown after Article 370 was scrapped. All schools and colleges are closed, it is a big loss.”
Sufiyan’s sister, Sameena (13), also a student, says “Things are pretty bad. We can’t venture out of our homes. It has been 12 days of blockade now.”
The family had stocked up on food and other essentials before Article 370 was scrapped, but now the stocks are drying up. Sameena’s mother, a housewife says, “Our LPG cylinder is about to get exhausted. We are really fed up of these restrictions.”
Outside Abdul Rahim’s house, the streets are mostly deserted. There is tight security in Kulgam. People do gather outside shuttered shops and discuss the situation.
Mohammed Saleem runs a restaurant in Kulgam. He says: “Business has taken a major hit. Shops are closed. The ATMs are closed, we can’t buy or sell anything. It is high time for the government to lift the communication blockade.”
Govt spokesperson Rohit Kansal said the issue of cashless ATMs shall be looked into and directions would be issued to ensure that ATMs have cash so that people do not suffer.
Kansal added: “The Govt is cognizant and sensitive to the problems being faced by the people, but to avoid a violent fallout steps were needed. But it is a dynamic situation, when the situation improves, the curbs will end.”
By Zaffar Iqbal