Tensions Flare in Kashmir, Khan Eases Lockdown

  • Demonstrators pelted security forces with stones. Indian forces retaliated, killing one person and injuring more than a dozen.
  • In the ten districts of Kashmir Valley, only the postpaid phones of the state-owned company BSNL are now working, and there are no other means of communication.
  • Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has finally announced a phased easing of lockdowns after a month and a half.

Tensions continued to flare in Indian-administered Kashmir. Riyaz Naikoo, commander of the militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed in in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district Tuesday. As news of Naikoo’s death spread, many people took to the streets in his home villages of Begpura and Gulzarpura to protest.

Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Today, it denotes a larger area that includes the Indian-administered territory of Jammu and Kashmir (which includes the divisions Jammu, Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh), the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and Chinese-administered territories of Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract.

Demonstrators pelted security forces with stones. Indian forces retaliated, killing one person and injuring more than a dozen. A local journalist said that 32-year-old Jahangir Yousuf was shot in the neck and died on the spot. He belonged to Athmula village. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the police no longer hand over the bodies of civilians to their families, so the locals took Jahangir’s body and buried it. No statement has been issued by local police officials.

Another local journalist said that people had also gone out to protest on the morning of Thursday, but security forces suppressed the protest. According to him, since the incident, “there is an atmosphere of great tension in South Kashmir, but since all communication systems are banned, it is not clear what is actually happening.”

In Kashmir, the Indian administration had suspended internet services as soon as the news of Riaz Naikoo’s death came. Phone services have also been shut down. In the ten districts of Kashmir Valley, only the postpaid phones of the state-owned company BSNL are now working, and there are no other means of communication.

Referring to the current situation, a local journalist said that the lockdown was due to the coronavirus. Now, with the presence of army and paramilitary forces in places, the atmosphere is almost the same as it was in August last year. It was then that India imposed strict sanctions on the region, including a curfew, after Kashmir’s special status was abolished.

There is no news in the Indian media regarding the current situation in Kashmir. There are usually hours of discussion on TV channels about the deaths of militants, or the operation of security forces. However, there is nothing in the Indian media about the complete suspension of communications in lockdown during the Coronavirus epidemic. Most Indian websites and TV channels are completely silent on this.

Last year, Modi’s government abolished Kashmir’s special constitutional powers, and abolished statehood to make it a centrally administered territory. India had arrested all the major leaders of Kashmir and deployed a large number of security forces to avoid public backlash. Curfew-like restrictions were imposed in almost all areas of the Kashmir Valley, suspending phone, mobile and internet services.

Pakistan to Ease Nationalwide Lockdown

Imran Khan is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Pakistan and the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Before entering politics, Khan was an international cricketer and captain of Pakistan national cricket team, leading the team to the victory in 1992 Cricket World Cup.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has finally announced a phased easing of lockdowns after a month and a half. It will open millions of small markets, shops, and hardware stores across the country, but all these shops and markets in a week. They will be able to work under SOPs for five days, from morning to 5 PM, and some industries have also been allowed to open for business.

The Prime Minister’s decision is being welcomed in the business community, as all businesses in Pakistan have been closed for almost a month and a half due to lockdown to prevent the coronavirus. Traders and industrialists have repeatedly complained to the government. They were demanding that they must be allowed to work.

In Pakistan, where the coronavirus has affected human lives, it has also had major negative effects on key sectors of the already faltering economy. The federation and the provinces locked down to prevent the coronavirus. The decision did reduce Coronavirus’s spread, but it did bankrupt traders and industrialists.

The State Bank of Pakistan has acknowledged in its agricultural policy statement that the coronavirus will hit economic sectors hard. Concerns have also been raised that the pace of economic growth will remain negative at 1.5%. However, steps are being taken to overcome this situation.

Earlier, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had also expressed concern over the slowdown in Pakistan’s economic growth in the wake of the coronavirus. Both institutions said that economic growth would be negative this financial year.

On the other hand, provincial officials say that the Sindh government is working with traders, industrialists, and shopkeepers, and steps are being taken to improve the situation. Some shops and markets have been allowed to operate, while work on SOPs is underway for others. Lockdown will be eased as conditions improve.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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