Curfew is here again. This time it seems to be indefinite. And reminds of the days when the entire valley remained under siege during Amarnath land row in 2008 and again over the Shopain alleged rapes and murders in 2009.
This time however, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah himself announce the imposition of curfew and asked people to respect it, cooperate with the troopers, especially CRPF so that situation is brought under control. The situation is gloomy after a spate of killings of youth especially teenagers allegedly by police and CRPF, across the Valley. Each protest leading to further killings.
The interior city areas or the old city of Srinagar as usual bore the brunt of curfews (undeclared) and strikes. People irrespective of age, and gender are hostages in their own homes.
“It has become a routine now. First they kill and then they cage us in our homes,” said Abdul Rashid Najar, a resident of Aali Kadal area of old city. “I had to take my father to an eye specialist, as I had got an appointment with the doctor after two months. But, we were not allowed to go. I even showed them the X-ray reports and prescriptions.”
Like the people, normal life is hostage too. Everything here is uncertain. People are planning things for tomorrow with a big ‘If’.
“Tomorrow, we’ll do this and this... if they lift the curfew.”
Such an environment tells upon people in many other ways.
“People quarrel with one another - with spouses, children, parents - on petty things, due to the emotional drain of the present simmering situation,” says Mugli Begum, a resident of Khanyar. “Bardaashi chukh kam gomut, akh aekis chi zaagan. Lakhchan lakchan kathan paeth (Patience is lost. Now they (family members) catch each other over trivial things.)”
For parents, children confined to homes adds to the headache. “Children need to play. They ask for those things which are not available. They have finished the homework. Now we fail to motivate them for further revisions,” says Asmat Qayoom, a parent. “I am frustrated by the situation.”
Ishrat Reshi, a resident of Lal Bazar was caught in the curfew at her maternal residence at Mallarata, Srinagar from Sunday.
“We were used to such situation from last two decades, but for children, it’s not the same. My eight year old daughter is very sensitive. We don’t face such hardships at Lal-bazar,” she said. “When she hears any shooting or stone pelting, she begins to vomit, runs to a bathroom... doesn’t speak, doesn’t eat.” Ishrat said. For this reason Ishrat rarely brings her daughter to her maternal home in the sensitive old city area.
The undeclared curfews have their own uncertainty given the absence of official announcements. Plus the paramilitary men often barge into interior localities chasing youngsters or smashing window panes of houses. “CRPF cops go berserk and smash window panes of many houses which has become a trend during the curfew. They have even cut the telephone and cable TV lines,” said Aijaz Ahmed, a resident of Kamangarpora, Srinagar.
For the poor and daily wager class frequent curfews become a matter of survival.
“When you don’t work, how can you live? They should take poor families like us into consideration. How many times do we have to scold our children, when they ask for vegetables. They are fed up of vaer (solid form of mixed spices)?” remarks a feeble looking Fazi, a mother of four, in Fateh Kadal, Srinagar.
Nowhatta resident Rehana’s wedding ceremony was going to be a grand affair. But, curfew played as the spoilsport.
“We cancelled the invitations. We had hired a music and dance band to entertain our guests. But, due to the uncertain situation we were forced to perform the Nikah ceremony in an austere way,” she said.
Rehana was excited about the ceremony too. From jewelery to an embroidered Lehanga she was planning each detail.
But all plans had to be shelved. Rehana’s father, Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Qazi wanted to book a marriage hall but had to cancel the plan.
“We could only arrange curfew passes for a few. As, our daughter has to shift to UAE with her husband, so, we did not have the option of postponing it either,” he said.
In the unpredictability of the situation the residents are using any chances they get to buy and store essential commodities.