ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Cost of Curfew

By imposing 54 days of curfew, the government has turned Kashmir into a giant prison.

For close to two months, men, women and children, the old and the young, the disabled and the ailing, have been locked up in a giant prison. After more than 54 days of curfew, that is precisely how one can describe conditions in the Kashmir Valley. The response of the Indian state, after parts of the Valley erupted in protests against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July, has been to use unconscionable force to curb popular anger. To date, 71 people are dead, more than 8,000 injured, including over 200 blinded by pellet injuries.

While the horrific cost on the lives of especially young people through pellet injuries has been reported by the media, the story that remains to be told is the price an entire population has had to pay to live through more than 54 days of curfew. What this means is not just a partial restriction of movement, but a total lockdown from dawn to dusk. No one can step outside without risking being shot on sight. Even curfew passes are no guarantee for safe movement as journalists confirm. Daily supplies of perishables are virtually impossible to access, as is medical aid in the event of an illness. The most vulnerable are the old, the ailing and infants. At no other time in the troubled Kashmir Valley has curfew been imposed for such a long and continuous period except in 1990, at the height of the militancy, when cumulatively, there were 175 days of curfew.

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