Kashmir:1. A fortnight ago, some major decisions were taken with a view to promoting the long-term welfare of the people of all the regions of the State and to ensure better governance and accelerated development. The Government’s approach was guided by the conviction that all-round development was the most credible solution to address separatist sentiments that were propagated by vested interests. Such sentiments were being utilized to legitimize a policy of cross-border terrorism that has cost the lives of thousands of inhabitants of the State and the country.
2. The intent of terrorist attacks was to create an atmosphere of fear and terror and to block development that could unleash opportunities for the younger generation of the population. Among the groups that are well-known for sponsoring violence and carrying out such attacks are Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen etc. Their record has been recognized by the Governments worldwide and by international organizations, including the United Nations.
3. In implementing the decisions taken last fortnight, this history of cross-border terrorism required the Government to put in place certain preventive steps as a precautionary measure. An important factor in doing so were credible inputs that such terrorist organizations were planning to undertake strikes in the State in the immediate future. The steps consequently taken included restrictions on free movement, prevention of large gatherings, restrictions on telecom connectivity and closure of schools and colleges. A few preventive detentions of individuals were also made in accordance with the provisions of the law to maintain law and order and avoid breach of peace. Similar measures have had to be taken in the past following violent incidents. This time these measures have been taken by way of precaution, keeping the safety and well-being of public at large.
4. At the same time, steps were taken that there was no shortage of essential supplies , medical facilities and hospitals continued to function, electricity, water supply and sanitation services are maintained. pilgrims going on Haj and returning from Haj were specifically facilitated and people associated with all these support services have free movement. Periodically, there were relaxations in some of these restrictions to enable people to come out for their daily requirements. A media centre with communication facilities was set up to enable media to cover events in the State with regular Press Briefings by Senior government officials. Sufficient number of passes have been issued to media persons to facilitate reporting by them. All major newspapers are being published and Satellite and Cable TV networks are operational.
5. There have been prolonged relaxations in the restrictions on Saturday and Sunday (10-11 August) prior to Eid so that people could do their Eid shopping. Relaxations were also given on the day of Eid to enable people to perform their Eid prayers which were done in large numbers throughout the State. There were provisions to enable people to go around and meet their friends and relatives and exchange Eid gifts. However, some restrictions were required on 14-15 August in view of Independence Day celebrations for which the terror threat perception was greater, particularly in the light of statements from across the border.
6. As things stand, 12 of the 22 districts of the State are functioning normally with some limited night-time restrictions in five of these. The measures put in place have ensured that there has been not a single loss of life or serious injuries to anyone during the course of maintaining peace and order. We have prevented any loss of human life despite concerted efforts by the terrorist organizations, radical groups and continuing efforts by Pakistan to destabilize the situation.
7. Keeping in view the evolving situation, as well as the cooperation of the people in maintaining calm and peace, we are now taking measures to ease the restrictions in a gradual manner. After today’s Friday prayers, there would be an easing of restrictions in the next few days in an orderly way. Schools will be opened after the weekend, area-wise so that children’s studies do not suffer. As movement restrictions are removed area-by-area, public transport will start moving in these areas. Government offices have been made fully functional from today. Telecom connectivity will be gradually restored in a phased manner, keeping in mind the constant threat posed by terrorist organizations in using mobile connectivity to organize terror actions. Preventive detentions are being continuously reviewed and appropriate decisions will be made based on law and order assessments. 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 which has seen steady return of regular traffic.
8. The Government appreciates that it is the cooperation of the people of Jammu & Kashmir that is critical to help maintaining peace and public order. Its focus is on the earliest return to normalcy while ensuring that terrorist forces are given no opportunity to wreak havoc as in the past.