With stocks dipping, Kashmir families want restrictions eased

Srinagar: Life has come to a standstill for Abdul Rahim and his family, living in Kulgam district of south Kashmir. It is over ten days since the lockdown began and the family is feeling the pressure of dipping cash and food reserves.

Kulgam has been a hotbed of militancy for the last several years, and many militants have been killed there. Security, therefore, is tight and restrictions are in place.

“People are suffering, stocks are drying up, we are worried what is in store for us in the future,” said Abdul Rahim who owns a fruit orchard. 

His 17-year-old nephew, Mohammad Sufiyan, says, “Compared to the 2016 unrest following the killing of Burhan Wani, the situation is peaceful in Kulgam presently”. However Sufiyan, a second year college student, laments missing his studies: ” I have not gone to college since the lockdown after Article 370 was scrapped. All schools and colleges are closed, it is a big loss.”

Sufiyan’s 13 year old sister, Sameena, also a student, says “things are pretty bad. We can’t venture out of our homes. It has been 12 days of blockade now”. 

The family had stocked up on food and other essentials before Article 370 was scrapped, but now the stocks are drying up. Sameena’s mother, a housewife says, “Our LPG cylinder is about to get exhausted. We are really fed up of these restrictions.”

Outside Abdul Rahim’s house, the streets are mostly deserted. There is tight security in the whole of Kulgam. People do gather outside shuttered shops and discuss the situation. 

Mohammed Saleem runs a restaurant in Kulgam. He says: “Business has taken a major hit. Shops are closed. The bank ATMs are closed, we can’t buy or sell anything. It is high time for the government to lift the communication blockade.” 

Government spokesperson Rohit Kansal said the issue of cashless ATMs shall be looked into and directions would be issued to ensure that ATMs have cash so that people do not suffer.

Kansal added: “The government is cognizant and sensitive to the problems being faced by the people, but in order to avoid a violent fallout such measures were needed. But it is a dynamic situation, and as and when the situation improves, the restrictions will also be ended.”

Till the restrictions are lifted, it is a wait and watch situation for families like the Abdul Rahims.