Govt to restore telecoms, ease curbs; open schools gradually: CS

Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Friday. -Excelsior/Shakeel
Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Friday. -Excelsior/Shakeel

Friday prayers peaceful barring stray incidents

Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, Aug 16: Government will begin restoring some telephone lines in Kashmir from Friday night and ease restrictions and re-open schools in phased manner as Friday prayers went peacefully amid heavy security across the Valley barring few incidents of stone pelting.
Speaking to reporters during a press conference, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said that Government will gradually ease restrictions on the movement of people and telecoms from this evening.

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These curbs were imposed on August 5 after Article 370 giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir was abrogated.
He said that restrictions in Kashmir will be eased out in next few days in an orderly way. “Keeping in view the evolving situation, as well as cooperation of the people in maintaining clam and peace, we are now taking measures to ease the restrictions in gradual manner”, he said.
The CS said that the telecommunications will also be restored gradually in a phased manner from this evening. “Telecom connectivity will be gradually restored in a phased manner, keeping in mind the constant threat posed by terrorist organizations in using mobile connectivity to organize terror actions”, he said.
He said that the preventive detentions are being continuously reviewed and appropriate decisions will be taken based on law and order assessments.
The official said that the schools will also be opened from next week area wise. “Schools will be opened after the weekend, area-wise so that children’s studies don’t suffer”, he said.
He said that the public transport will also be allowed in the areas where the restrictions would be removed.
Subrhamanyam said that 12 out of 22 districts in Jammu and Kashmir are functioning normally with some limited night time restrictions in 5 of these. “The measures put in place have ensured that there has not been a single loss of life or serious injuries to any one during the course of maintaining peace and order”, he said.
He said that there have been prolonged relaxations in restrictions on Aug 10 and 11 prior to Eid so that people could do Eid shopping. “Relaxations were also given on Eid to enable people to perform Eid prayers”, he said.
The Chief Secretary said that restrictions were required on August 14 and 15 in view of Independence day celeberations for which the “terror threat perception was greater, particularly in the light of statements from across the border”.
Subrahmanyam said that during the restrictions steps were taken that there were no shortage of essential supplies, medical facilities and hospitals continued to function, electricity, water supply and sanitation services are maintained.
He said that pilgrims going on Haj and returning from Haj were specifically facilitated and people associated with all these support services have free movement.
He said that restrictions were imposed as the intent of terrorist attacks was to create an atmosphere of fear and terror and to block development that could unleash opportunities for the younger generation of the population. “Among the groups that are well-known for sponsoring violence and carrying out such attacks are Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen etc. Their record has been recognized by the Governments worldwide and by international organizations, including the United Nations”, he said.
He said there were credible inputs that such terrorist organizations were planning to undertake strikes in the State in the immediate future. “The steps consequently taken included restrictions on free movement, prevention of large gatherings, restrictions on telecom connectivity and closure of schools and colleges. A few preventive detentions of individuals were also made in accordance with the provisions of the law to maintain law and order and avoid breach of peace. Similar measures have had to be taken in the past following violent incidents. This time these measures have been taken by way of precaution, keeping the safety and well-being of public at large”, he added.
“It is expected that over the next few days, as the restrictions get eased, life in Jammu and Kashmir will become completely normal. This is already visible on the roads which has seen steady return of regular traffic”, he said.
The CS said that the Government appreciates that it is the cooperation of the people of Jammu & Kashmir that is critical to help maintaining peace and public order. “Its focus is on the earliest return to normalcy while ensuring that terrorist forces are given no opportunity to wreak havoc as in the past”, he added.
The restrictions continued today as Police vans fitted with loudspeakers announced this morning that the curfew continues to be imposed in Srinagar and asked residents to stay indoors.
The security forces were heavily deployed in front of mosques while major mosques including grand mosque at Nowhatta remained closed for prayers since Aug 5.
The troops had blocked all the major roads with concertina wires and no movement was allowed except those with special passes issued by the District Magistrate Srinagar. However, in the afternoon the restrictions were eased and people in the evening were seen buying provisions as some stores opened in the evening.
Protests took place at Soura and Mehjoor Nagar where people in hundreds came out against scrapping of Article 370 of Constitution. Some of the protesters clashed with security forces in these localities.