After ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the central government has been focusing on implementing various developmental schemes but terror groups are creating hurdles by threatening people and stopping them from carrying out normal day-to-day activities.
Unnerved by the absence of a violent public backlash against the abolition of the special status granted by Article 370, terrorists are also resorting to civilian killings and threats to instill fear among the people so that the return of normalcy is prevented in the valley, according to officials.
“Separatists were expecting a violent public outrage… They also thought that there would be civilian casualties in clashes with the security forces. (But) nothing like that happened although there has been a general strike in the valley since August 5,” said a top intelligence officer.
“Despite all the preventive measures taken by us to ensure that public life and property are protected, the credit for ensuring peace goes to the common man in Kashmir who has refused to play into the hands of the separatists,” the officer added.
The officer referred to the killing of two persons from nomadic community (bakarwals) in Tral and a shopkeeper in Srinagar city by militants and said these are all examples of the frustration of the terrorists.
Terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) has warned apple growers of Kashmir not to send their produce to Indian markets, threatening them with dire consequences. The terror warning was sent out last month through posters and pamphlets in Shopian, signed by Hizbul commander Naveed Babu alias Babar Azam.
The posters asked the transporters, mandis, local shop owners and other business establishments not to carry out their business activities, and also warned all shopkeepers to keep their business activities shut.
Similar threats have been issued to educational institutions – schools, colleges, universities, asking them not to open.
The warning came after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said majority of Kashmiris support the ending of special status and that restrictions in Kashmir were to prevent Pakistan from creating mischief through proxies and terrorists.
Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh recently asserted that the situation was near normal, with restrictions almost lifted from most of the districts.
“We are very close to normalcy. If you take the entire state into account, all 10 districts of Jammu have become absolutely normal. All schools, colleges and offices are open. People are doing their jobs without any problem,” he said at a press briefing after Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Asif Maqbool Bhat was killed in a shootout with police on Wednesday morning.
The DGP said that the situation in Leh and Kargil districts were also normal and that over 90 per cent areas were free of restrictions and 100 per cent of the telephone exchanges were functional in the region.
All the telephone exchanges were opened from the night from September 4, as per J&K’s Department of Information and Public Relations.
The Central government had imposed communication restrictions in the Valley, by clamping down upon landline, mobile and internet connections, after special status was withdrawn on August 6.
As the situation gradually limps back to normalcy in the valley, some other posters by banned militant outfits like Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) have appeared at a number of places outside local mosques in North and South Kashmir districts threatening shopkeepers, transporters and others with dire consequences if they attempt to resume normal activities.
Some masked youths also reportedly appeared in some mosques in Srinagar and Sopore warning people not to resume normal activities.
Unlike the public unrest of 2008, 2010 and 2016, during which mosques were used to incite people to violence, there has so far not been a single incident this year in which local mosques were used to stoke passions among the people.
“This remains a big worry for the militants and that is why they are resorting to civilian killings and handing down threats. Such tactics are self defeating as the common man seems to have decided not to play into their hands”, said a senior police officer.
After the Centre’s move, one of the primary plans of the Modi government has been to ensure that the apple produces in the Kashmir Valley are bought and right prices are paid to win the hearts of the locals.
Not only has the Centre announced procurement of apples produced in Jammu and Kashmir during the current season of 2019, but NAFED will complete the entire process of procurement through designated State Government Agencies by December 15.
The government has decided that procurement will be made directly from genuine apple growers, to ensure that there is no middlemen involved taking a commission.
Moreover, to ensure total transparency and zero corruption, the State Government will process payment directly to the bank account of the apple grower through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).
Implementation of Centre’s 85 schemes, including PM-KISAN, PM-KISAN-Pension, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Stand-Up India, are being taken to return normalcy to the Valley.
Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla has been monitoring the developments closely and working on roadmap for implementation of 85 people-oriented schemes that also include those related to education, health, skill development, agriculture and employment.
The government aims to achieve 100 percent coverage of its all schemes, which come under 21 ministries, within one month (by September 30), said a Home Ministry source.
A slew of insurances schemes, including the Atal Pension Yojana, has also been introduced in the newly carved Union Territory and the government plans to provide electricity to all the Jammu and Kashmir households.
Prime Minister’s special initiatives like LPG connection to the poor household and direct benefit transfer (DBT) for LPG and kerosene, focussing to empower women especially in rural areas are also to be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir.
The source said the Centre might soon announce opening of government jobs, asking even the paramililtary and army to recruit local people.