MUMBAI - As the miseries of millions of residents of Kashmir Valley and Muslim majority areas of Jammu continued unabated as the strict lockdown imposed by the Indian government completed 10 weeks, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said it would take four months for Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir to return to normal after his government revoked the disputed territory’s special status in August and imposed harsh restrictions.

At a rally in the western state of Maharashtra, Modi said that his government had taken the necessary steps to maintain security in Indian occupied Kashmir.

Alongside the withdrawal on August 5 of constitutional provisions that gave Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) special autonomy, Modi’s government flooded the region with additional troops and imposed curfew-like restrictions to keep a lid on protests.

Months after the move, mobile telephone and internet connections in the occupied valley, home to around seven million people, remain cut off.

Modi says situation will return to normal in four months

Some mobile phone connections are set to be restored on Monday (today), the Indian government said on Saturday.”I assure you that it won’t take more than 4 months to normalise the abnormal situation that has persisted there for 40 years,” Modi said at the rally, speaking in Hindi.

“[Occupied] Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh aren’t just a piece of land for us,” Modi said, referring to the remote Buddhist enclave that borders China.

New Delhi insists that its move in August was essential to integrate IOK fully into India and bring development to the disputed Himalayan region, but there are anger and discontent among many locals over the decision.

Despite the curbs, Kashmiris have come out on to the streets, and many shops and other commercial establishments in the Kashmir valley have remained mostly shuttered in protests against the withdrawal of the special status.

Last week, Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir state government published full-page advertisements in local newspapers asking people to resume normal life, including reopening of businesses and sending children to schools.

NO RESPITE FOR IOK PEOPLE

As the miseries of millions of residents of Kashmir Valley and Jammu continued unabated, the strict lockdown imposed by the Indian government completed 10 weeks on Sunday.

According to Kashmir Media Service, shops and main markets are shut and public transport is off the roads in the Kashmir valley and Jammu as a mark of protest to express resentment against Indian occupation.

Though private vehicles are plying on the roads but in the absence of public transport, people find it difficult to get to the hospitals and move from one place to another to meet their loved ones.

They can’t even easily communicate with their relatives and friends owing to gag on internet and cell phone services. The lockdown and ban on communications has virtually cut off the Kashmir Valley from the outside world.

On the other hand, Indian civil rights activists talking to reporters in New Delhi urged the Indian government to restore Articles 370 and 35A as well as mobile and internet services, remove the restrictions on the movement of people in the Kashmir Valley and take steps to bring back normalcy in the territory.

Social activist Shabnam Hashmi on the occasion said that the abrogation of Article 370 was a mindless exercise carried out by the BJP-led government. Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul said that the repeal of Article 370 was the main cause of trauma for the people of Kashmir.

Kannan Gopinathan, the IAS officer, who resigned in protest against human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, addressing a conference in Kerala’s Thrissur city said that denial of human rights to the Kashmiri people and exclusion of a group of people in Assam in the name of Citizenship Amendment Bill are unconstitutional acts.

A Marx, a human rights activist from Tamil Nadu, in his address to the conference said what is happening in Kashmir and Assam now will be repeated soon in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Slogans like ‘Reinstate peace and democracy in Kashmir and Assam’ were raised in the conference.