Life in Indian Occupied Kashmir: Glimpses of last 15 days

Life in Indian Occupied Kashmir: Glimpses of last 15 days

ISLAMABAD (APP): The ordinary life in Srinagar, Indian Held Kashmir, is disrupted as the authorities tried to quell the Kashmiris' protests against the Indian rule with use of brutal force.

An eerie silence engulfs downtown, home to half a million people.

Shortly after dawn, police and paramilitary soldiers, in full riot gear and armed with automatic rifles, swiftly occupy the roads and streets, said a report published in the Washington Post. It said the forces set up checkpoints, and lay steel barricades and razor wire at all the entry and exit points.

Like much of the rest of IHK, the sprawling, densely populated neighborhoods had been under curfew since July 9, a day after Indian government forces killed a popular leader of the region's largest Kashmiri group.

The report said yet public defiance persisted, sparking deadly clashes between Kashmiris and the Indian forces that left dozens dead and hundreds injured.

Shops were shuttered and public movement restricted. Getting food and medicine was a struggle.

It said restrictions and security lockdowns were nothing new for Kashmiris. The region witnessed months of clampdown during massive public protests against Indian rule in 2008 and 2010.

Frequent freedom calls for shutdown and protests too are routinely met with security lockdowns.

Residents say they've figured out ways to mitigate the hardships of being prisoners inside their homes.

For fresh vegetables and milk, they must leave home before dawn and walk a few kilometres to reach farmers. They buy other essentials, and smokers can get cigarettes, at the home of a neighborhood grocery store owner who had stockpiled goods there.

"But communication and information blackout has added to the hardships. Authorities suspended most cellular and Internet services and temporarily banned newspaper publication to stop activists from organizing protests," it added.

The report narrated marriage ceremony of a Kashmiri Sheikh Naseer Ahmed. At his home, there were no floral or light decorations, no hustle and bustle. Only close relatives were invited to the modest meal that was being prepared.

His unusually humble nuptials reflected how ordinary life was muted in Srinagar, the urban heart of Indian Held Kashmir, as authorities attempted to quash protests against Indian rule.

It said dozens of invitations and ceremonies had been canceled. The atmosphere was quite subdued. "How can we feast and celebrate when so many people are being killed?" Ahmed said in downtown neighborhood of Nowhatta, which houses the city's historic main mosque of Jamia Masjid.

"I'm just managing to solemnize my nuptial knot."

"The entire population is undergoing a grind," said Mohammed Munnawar, the head chef.

The report said life was toughest for the sick. Not far from Ahmed's house, cancer patient Haleema Bano twice ran short of her medicine.

Now, however, she's due for her follow-up examinations. To get to the hospital, she would need her son's help to walk a long distance, through a network of interior alleys away from police and paramilitary soldiers. She's fearful.

Her son, Reyaz Ahmed Bhat, said a cousin in a neighbouring locality ran out of prescription medicine for chronic depression.

Living on a roadside in the gaze of patrolling soldiers, his condition worsened as he could not even venture out of his home to take strolls.

"Sometimes he would become violent, hitting his head against the wall. Then he would go quiet for hours. His wife and parents and two little kids were so terrified," Bhat said.

The Indian Held Kashmir had seen several freedom movements, including a struggle launched in 1989. More than 68,000 people were killed in those movements and the subsequent brutal military crackdown by hundreds of thousands of Indian forces deployed across the region.

The report said the every new killing further enraged residents, sparking more protests and clashes. Kashmiri politicians, most of them under house arrest or inside police lockups, have been repeatedly calling for protest demonstrations and strikes.

These leaders also appealed to residents to stock up for a long struggle.