Tourists and Kashmiri locals who reached Delhi on Tuesday appeared relieved at being out of the uncertainty sweeping the Valley but expressed their angst at the situation there, with some saying it is akin to the Stone Age without lines of communication.
They also rued the heavy security deployment in the Valley as tension persisted in the region over revoking of the provisions of Article 370, which gave special powers to the state.
“The decision and its after effects have made everything stand still in the Valley,” said Zehra Bashir, visibly angry at being unable to inform her parents that she has reached Delhi safely.
“Forget about Internet, even the phone lines are dead,” Bashir, who had come to the national capital to pursue her MBA, said.
Asked about her views on scrapping of the provisions of Article 370, she replied, “Bomb phenk diya jaise unhone (It was as if they dropped a bomb)”.
It took her four hours to reach the airport from her home in Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar, she said.
Authorities have suspended Internet and mobile services in several areas and banned public gatherings in Srinagar district under Section 144, apprehending trouble.
In Srinagar city, there is a virtual communications blackout. But the situation across the three regions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh – is peaceful and people who have urgent work or report emergency are allowed to move from one place to another despite the restrictions.
All educational institutes across the state remained closed for the second consecutive day. Most roads are barricaded in Srinagar city and traffic is being regulated.
“I can’t explain how I managed to reach the (Srinagar) airport, may be because I was going to Hajj that they allowed me. But the situation is bad, pretty bad,” said Khursheed Ahmed after reaching the Delhi airport.
“It is back to the Stone Age for Kashmir. There is no means of communication whatsoever,” he said.
Farooq Sheikh, 32, who works in the corporate sector and travels frequently out of the state for business, appeared deeply apprehensive.
“We felt caged inside in our own city. Our mobile phone connection has been snapped, Internet shut, even cable TVs and landlines are down. We felt like we were caged, or being jailed in our own home, our own city,” he said.
Imtiyaz Ahmad Khan, 55, a Srinagar-based state government employee is among the 40 odd Hajj-bound travellers who arrived in Delhi on Monday, a day ahead of their scheduled time.
“We are deeply apprehensive about what is happening, so we all came a day earlier. Kashmir is burning. We are going to Hajj, but with no peace in mind,” he said.
A Kashmiri woman from Srinagar, who did not wish to be identified, said, “The security situation is very tense. No one is leaving their homes”.
“Our Kashmir is burning. But, no one can see or get to know as lines of communications have been cut. Our Valley is burning beneath a cover,” she said.
Meghna Negi had waited for long to undertake the Amarnath Yatra with her mother and sister. She said she got the news of the curtailment of the yatra and the subsequent shutdown in the Valley only after they touched down at the Srinagar airport.
“We spent a good amount for this trip. But as luck had it we ended up being stuck at our hotel in Srinagar. Yes, the advisory was that tourists should leave but did you see the increase in the prices of airlines ticket.
“So we decided to stay and leave on the pre-assigned date only.
“I am extremely thankful to the people of Valley, they all were very, very helpful throughout. I wish things turn back to normal soon and we get to visit the Valley and the experience the hospitality of its people once again,” she said.