Most phone lines in Kashmir will be restored over the weekend and schools will reopen next week, Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary B V R Subrahmanyam said on Friday (August 16) while announcing the easing of restrictions in a phased and “orderly way”.
Offices of the Jammu and Kashmir government in the Valley functioned normally on Friday and the attendance in many offices was “quite high”, Subrahmanyam said at a press conference.
He said there has 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or major injury since restrictions were imposed on August 5, when Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 was revoked and the state bifurcated into two Union Territories.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 told reporters here, adding 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 area-wise so that children’s studies do not suffer,” he said.
Telecom connectivity, a major point of concern, will gradually be eased and restored in a phased manner keeping in mind the constant threat posed by terrorist organisations in using mobile connectivity to organise terror actions, Subrahmanyam said.
Asked about the restoration of telephone lines, he said, “You will see gradual restoration from tonight and tomorrow onwards. 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.”
Twelve districts in Jammu and Kashmir out of 22 were functioning normally while there was limited night-time restrictions only in five districts.
“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 removed area by area, movement of public transport will be allowed in these areas too, the senior 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. This is already visible on the roads as the roads are full of regular traffic and we expect to an increase in the coming days.”
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 the period of restrictions. The free movement of Hajj pilgrims was also ensured. He answered only a few questions before ending the press conference.