Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government Wednesday said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s reference to the situation in the state at the United Nations General Assembly last week was a “story of falsehoods”, asserting that life in the valley had returned to near normal since the abrogation of Article 370 in August this year.
“Pakistani PM Imran Khan’s address at the UNGA is a story of falsehoods. By peddling half truths and deliberate lies, Pakistan was attempting to divert attention from its own terror record, including its brazen support to militants in Jammu and Kashmir,” a senior official of the state government said in a statement here.
The official said Khan’s claim about curfew and clampdown in Kashmir was far from truth as only “limited restrictions on movement had been imposed by the local administration in some parts to prevent miscreants from fomenting trouble but these too were relaxed in less than a week’s time”.
He said the quantum and frequency of these relaxations has been progressively increasing to a point that now almost the entire state is free of restrictions.
“Jammu and Kashmir is free for any movement and accessible to all including citizens, outsiders, journalists and all others for free movement. It is a myth being propagated that there is a virtual clampdown in J&K. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is proven by the traffic visible on the roads with traffic jams, the passenger air traffic, the normal functioning of hospitals, the availability of essential civil supplies, and the free access of journalists,” he said.
“The very fact that all highways remain open, all air operations are normal and traffic is plying normally is sufficient to prove the ‘clampdown theory’ is the vestige of imagination of a neighbour who has been dismayed to find that the situation in J&K has remained peaceful with not a single live bullet being fired,” he added.
Giving details, the official said the National Highway connecting Jammu to Srinagar and onwards to Kargil and Leh continues to function normally.
Over 1,000 vehicles traverse the route every day carrying food, fuel, medicines and other supplies to the valley and onwards to Ladakh and carrying back exports, including apples and handicraft products, to the rest of the country.
“Over 200 journalists from all major national print and electronic media and international media, including BBC, Washington Post, New York Times, Foreign Policy, AP, AFP, Reuters, DW, Al Jazeera, etc., have been reporting freely including many who are critical of the government,” he said.
The official said while a deliberate and false narrative was being created to project a troop build up and human rights violations, the genuine issues of the local population such as the threats being posed by militants to civilians wanting to resume normal life were being ignored.
“It is well known that there are strong coercive influences being exerted on ordinary Kashmiris through overt and covert threats not to resume normal activities and businesses. A girl as young as 4 years was shot at merely because her family wanted to carry out their normal economic activity. A 65-year-old shopkeeper was killed merely because he wanted to earn his normal livelihood by keeping his shop open,” he added. The official said unlike Pakistan, India is a secular nation with a rule of law and a strong independent democratic, judicial and human rights institutional mechanism.
“Any detentions made are under prescribed laws and subject to strict judicial review. Any human rights complaints are subjects to strict and constant investigation and oversight both locally and federally, But what is unfortunate is that while Pakistan is very vocal of the rights of trouble creators, terrorists and thugs, it has hardly anything to say either for those Kashmiris who are coerced and shot at by elements sponsored by it,” he said.