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UNSC appreciates India steps in Jammu & Kashmir after curbs eased

Hours before UNSC meet, govt said phone lines will be restored over weekend, schools will reopen next week.

ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 19, 2019, 10.14 AM IST
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NEW DELHI | SRINAGAR: The United Nations Security Council on Friday appreciated the measures New Delhi had taken to relax restrictions in the Kashmir Valley and did not pursue matters further, making a point that the steps had been in the right direction.

Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representation at the UN, said after the meeting that the UNSC recognised that Article 370 was an internal matter. “The UN Security Council acknowledged these efforts (by India) and felt this is the direction in which the international community wanted matters to move. We are committed to gradually removing all restrictions.”

Hours before the UNSC meeting, the J&K government announced that it will restore Kashmir’s communications with the outside world in phases and schools will reopen next week.

Nearly two weeks after the Centre announced the withdrawal of Article 370 from J&K leading to a lockdown and communication restrictions, J&K chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said phone lines will be restored over the weekend.

Government offices in the Valley functioned normally on Friday and attendance in many was “quite high,” Subrahmanyam said. He said there had been no loss of life or major injury since restrictions were imposed on August 5, when Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 was revoked and the state bifurcated into two Union Territories. “There will be easing of restrictions in the next few days in an orderly way,” Subrahmanyam said.

Border on High Alert
He added that steps would be taken keeping in view the evolving situation as well as the cooperation of the people in maintaining calm and peace. “Schools will be opened after the weekend areawise so that children's studies do not suffer.”

Telecom connectivity, a major point of concern, will be restored in a phased manner keeping in mind the constant threat posed by terrorist organisations using mobiles to organise attacks, Subrahmanyam said.

“You will see gradual restoration (of phone lines) from tonight and tomorrow onwards,” he said. “You will find a lot of Srinagar functioning tomorrow morning. BSNL takes a couple of hours to get back to action. Exchange by exchange they will be switching it on. Over the weekend, you will have most of these lines functional.”

Home ministry officials said that the security apparatus along the border has been on high alert in view of a possible attempt by Pakistan to escalate tension. There have been a few incidents of firing along the Line of Control (LoC), they said. According to Subrahmanyam, 12 districts out of 22 were functioning normally while there were limited restrictions in five.

“After today's Friday prayers, immediate reports suggest that things have gone off quite peacefully right throughout the state,” he said. “We have prevented any loss of human life despite concerted efforts by terrorist organisations, radical groups and continuing efforts by Pakistan to destabilise the situation.”

As restrictions on the movement of people are lifted area-wise, public transport will also be allowed, the official said.

“It is expected that over the next few days, as the restrictions get eased, life in Jammu and Kashmir will become completely normal,” he said. “This is already visible on the roads as the roads are full of regular traffic and we expect an increase in the coming days.”

Detention call
Preventive detentions, he said, are being continuously reviewed. Appropriate decisions will be made based on law and order assessments, he added. Subrahmanyam said the administration appreciates the fact that the cooperation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is critical in helping maintain peace and public order.

“Focus is that, at the earliest, normalcy returns while ensuring that terrorist forces are given no opportunity to wreak havoc as in the past," he said.

The chief secretary said the government had taken steps to ensure there was no shortage of essentials and medicines during restrictions. The free movement of Haj pilgrims was also ensured.
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