Srinagar: Days after Home Minister Amit Shah claimed that “normalcy” has returned in Kashmir, former union minister Yashwant Sinha said he only witnessed “death of expectations” among the people in the region.
“I can say that the situation is far from normalcy,” Sinha told NewsClick.
Shah on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that the situation in Jammu & Kashmir is fully normal, while responding to questions in the upper house.
The former BJP minister arrived in Srinagar on Friday for a four-day visit, during which he is expecting to meet people including those from the business fraternity, civil society groups and the regional political parties.
“In the last few hours, I realised, a death of expectations. There is no hope… People are not expecting anything,” Sinha said after meeting different delegations including Valley’s trade leaders.
Sinha is leading a delegation that includes former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah, former vice Air Marshall Kapil Kak and senior journalist Bharat Bhushan.
This is the first visit of former minister to Srinagar after the government unilaterally abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated the region into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh—on August 5. Since then, a severe clampdown has been underway in the erstwhile state with restrictions imposed across the region. As a part of those restriction measures, earlier on September 17, Sinha was not allowed to enter the Valley. In fact, he was flown back from the Srinagar airport in his first attempt to visit the city.
More than 100 days have passed, but tension in the region continues to escalate and following the government’s ease in the initial restrictions, a civilian shutdown followed against the government’s move to revoke the region’s “special status” guaranteed under Article 370.
Sinha expressed his disapproval over the move especially with downsizing the status of Jammu and Kashmir from a state into two union territories.
Sinha also censured the government’s handling of Kashmir after August 5.
“The home minister claims they have not fired a single bullet in Kashmir; the credit doesn’t go to the government. It goes to the maturity with which the people of Kashmir have behaved and from that rises some hope in the heart of a person like me,” Sinha added.
The senior leader said the only option left for the people of Kashmir is to continue their “pacifist resistance”.
“If they carry on like this, follow the Gandhian method of pacifist resistance, use non-violence and make their point, then the government of India will have to amend and undo the damage they have done,” Sinha said.
The delegation arrived in Kashmir at a time when a shutdown continues to be in place. Days after shops, business establishments began to resume their business for nearly a week, a civilian shutdown was, this time, reinforced in most parts of the Valley, especially at the city-center Lal Chowk.
Many began to observe it again due to fear as several shops were burned down in Downtown area of Srinagar. The shutdown is being reinforced in through warning posters.
Pertinently, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Shahid Choudhary earlier on Thursday warned “miscreants” involved in enforcing the shutdown. He said the district administration is closely “monitoring things”.
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