Anchar falls silent as civil disobedience in Kashmir completes 100 days
While entire Kashmir continues to reel under a near total lockdown, Anchar Soura emerged as a new epicentre of the civil disobedience
Since last Wednesday, the noonday sun remained hidden behind pitch dark clouds. A thick layer of snow, like in other parts of Valley, has carpeted the entire AncharvSoura locality, some 11 km from Srinagar's business nerve centre of Lal Chowk. The alleyways here are largely de-peopled. An odd two dozen shops dotting the area open briefly during unearthly hours of the morning and evening amid frosty weather conditions. The roads dug up by the locals have been repaired and the corrugated tin sheets erected on the streets to prevent the forces from entering the locality have been removed. The young men no longer patrol the streets to stop the police from executing swoop downs during the night. People are resolved to continue their protest against the removal of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The civil disobedience against the August 5 decision to do away with the special status of the state and split it into two union territories completed 100 days on Tuesday.
While entire Kashmir continues to reel under a near-total lockdown, Anchar Soura emerged as a new epicentre of the civil disobedience.
The area located alongside the glossy Anchar Lake, comprising a population of around twenty thousand people, has remained politically conscious and vibrant since the autocratic Dogra rule.
"People have always stood up for their rights here. They never gave in to any pressure.”, said Sidiq , who did not wish to use his full name in this report, fearing reprisal.
When Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, in 1946, gave the call for the "Quit Kashmir Movement", the people of the area took part enthusiastically in long marches and processions with weapons like harpoons and hacks in their hands.
They also participated in the activities of the Plebiscite Front that was formed following the sudden arrest of the state's first democratically elected Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
Despite having a rich political history, the people living in the area are a disadvantaged lot. Most of the people eke out a living by growing Nadroo (lotus stem) and wickers.
"They sell Nadroo in the local flea markets while the wickers they grow are used to make baskets and other such articles", said Nazir-u-Din Baba, a septuagenarian resident from the area, adding that only a very small percentage of the local populace is employed in the government sector.
Baba said that the area also remained volatile during the troubled nineties.
Almost the entire population here protested against the reading down of the special provisions of Jammu and Kashmir, There were multiple face-offs between the locals and forces. The young men threw brickbats on the forces who in turn responded by firing shot gun ammunition. Dozens of youth sustained injuries in these clashes.
"The area was well nigh out of bounds for weeks altogether. No police man could enter our locality", say a band of young men.
They said that Valley suffered heavy losses due to the government's unwise and unconstitutional decision.
"We can see through their intentions. They are towing the policies of Israel and are in continuous pursuit of turning Kashmir into another Palestine", said a middle-aged man standing at the corner of a dirt lane in the area.
While there is a strange hush in Anchar, the other parts of Kashmir are observing a silent shut down, save for a few hours, in the morning and the evening. Commercial transport is largely off the roads and internet --both cellular and broadband—is blocked. An official told Asiaville that it might take some more time to restore the internet.
The silent protest of the people against the abrogation of the special position of Jammu and Kashmir, even after a good 100 days since it was done, has surprised many in the civil and security administration.
"We were expecting large scale violence, but the public response this time was diametrically different", said an official, who declined to be quoted in this report.
Political observers based in the Valley, however, cautioned that the silence of the people should no way be misconstrued.
“There is much anger among the people bottled up with every passing day . There may an outburst at any time”, said a political observer, who teaches PoliticalScience at a local university.