The Central Reserve Police Force has sounded alarm over the ongoing lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir. The lead force deployed in the Valley has reportedly raised concerns over the prolonged lockdown, which began on August 5 after the Narendra Modi government abrogated Article 320 of the Constitution. An HT report on Thursday quoted an assessment report by the CRPF, which spoke extensively about the state of affairs for soldiers living in make-shift camps in harsh winters. The Centre had deployed around 75,000 soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir. The CRPF has maximum number of troopers deployed in the Valley. The HT report said that the CRPF leadership feels that the massive deployment can make the troopers ‘complacent’.
The report also talks about how terrorists can spark fresh wave of protests amid civilians. “Prolonged lockdown may give a chance for a new wave of protests and armed struggle to start again. Terrorists and OGWs (overground workers) may carry out reconnaissance and fine tuning of possible targets to start spectacular attacks at later stage at the behest of Pakistan,” the HT report quoted CRPF as saying.
Meanwhile, SMS service messages, including 'one time passwords' (OTPs), resumed on Tuesday for 40 lakh subscribers in Kashmir following several requests from the public, particularly the business community, officials said. Though the Jammu and Kashmir administration allowed service providers to resume machine-based messages, subscribers will not be allowed to send any messages from their mobiles, the officials said. The resumption of service messages will help the general public, especially business-persons, receive service messages from banks, they said. Phones fell silent on August 5, when the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and reorganised the state into two union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Mobile phones in Kashmir buzzed back to life after a gap of 72 days on October 14, but SMS facilities were stopped within a few hours after the Army claimed terrorists were using SMS services to mobilse people. Over 25 lakh prepaid mobile phones and internet services, including WhatsApp, remain deactivated for now, the officials said.
On August 17, partial fixed line telephony resumed in the Valley. On September 4, nearly 50,000 landlines were declared operational. In Jammu, communication was restored within days of the blockade and mobile internet restarted around mid-August. However, after its misuse, internet facility on cell phones was snapped on August 18.
According to the the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), instead of bringing "development", the economy of Kashmir has suffered losses of Rs 15,000 crore since August 5, when the government announced the Article 370 move.
"Our conservative estimates put the losses to the Kashmir economy due to the situation after August 5 at Rs 15,000 crore. We will be coming up with comprehensive data about the losses within a week," news agency PTI quoted Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) president Sheikh Ashiq Hussain as saying.
Not just the losses in economy, the move has also resulted in job loss due to clampdown on internet services, protests and strikes. The handicraft, tourism and e-commerce sectors, which were flourishing before the Centre’s move, were the worst hit, Hussain said.