People queue up outside a petrol pump in Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir on Aug 3, 2019. Most people in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the Valley, believe that Article 35A of the Constitution is going amid reports that the idea of dividing the state into three union territories of Jammu, Valley and Ladakh is also being toyed with. (Photo: IANS)
Srinagar: Provisions are fast vanishing from the shelves of departmental stores and even from small grocery stores in towns and villages across the Valley. Petrol pumps are going dry as unending queues of cars, two-wheelers and even people carrying cans hope that supplies would come and they would be the first to have their vehicle tanks and cans filled.
Hospitals have been alerted to keep their necessary complement of doctors present at emergencies and for patients. ATMs across Srinagar city and in districts like Ganderbal, Badgam, Pulwama, Kulgam, Baramulla, Shopian, Kupwara and Sopore town are running out of cash as people fear long hours of curfews could be imminent.
"Ambulances have been made ready to cope with emergencies. We have been advised to lodge at places close to the hospital or at hospital quarters", said Dr Nisar Shah, a super specialist at Srinagar's largest hospital, the SMHS Hospital.
Ali Muhammad Dar has a brick kiln in Chadura area of Badgam district. His skilled labourers had arrived in April, like every previous year, to do their work in the Valley before cold sets in. "Our business is finished this year. All my skilled labour from Uttar Pradesh have left out of panic. No local resident engages in brick kilns in the Valley as both unskilled and skilled labourers come from outside the state. What do we do now?" asked Dar.
Dar is no exception to scores of other brick kiln owners and other small businessmen whose livelihood depends entirely on the availability of staff belonging to outside the states. Even the transplanting of paddy crop, de-weeding and harvesting of the crop in autumn is done in the Valley for the last many years by labourers from West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
"Most of our barbers, carpenters, masons, painters come from outside the state. They have started leaving", said Noor Muhammad Wani, a retired bank officer.
"Allah should protect everyone. Don't know whether there is going to be a war or something else", says Showkat Ahmad Wani, a retired power development commissioner who lives in Shivpora area of Srinagar.
Parents and anxious mothers have been advising their children not to venture outside if there is a clampdown.
"Would nothing work? Are mobile phones, Internet and even fixed landline phones going to stop functioning? That would be hell if this happens and nobody can step out of home", said Elizabeth Maryam, who teaches economics at the University of Kashmir.