Life in Undeclared curfew
As life in Srinagar interiors was put under a siege by an undeclared curfew, people were left wanting for basic amenities. let me narrate that..
Most of the old city bore the brunt of undeclared curfew imposed after killing of teenager Wamiq Farooq. Although the administration declared imposition of Sec 144, at many places it meant no permission to open windows or doors. People were sequestered in their homes.
An elderly woman in Rajouri Kadal looking to buy a painkiller was stopped and asked to return. “It is better to die than facing such humiliation,” she bemoaned.
Fareeda, 40, a widow living in old city is the lone breadwinner of her family which include her three daughters. Working as maid on daily-wage basis in Rajbagh, Fareeda couldn’t make it to her work. Standing outside her mud house in the congested lanes of Gaad Kocha Khankah-e-Moula, Fareeda, is worried about feeding her family.
A man pleads policemen to allow him to visit hospital during an undeclared curfew in Srinagar.
“On one side they (security agencies) frantically target our innocent young sons and on another hand they snatch our livelihood from us,” she mutters.
Referring to the CRPF men, deployed along the Mohalla, she says: “yeman zaaliman chu ni aar ti yewan sanean shurayn paeth (they don’t even feel pity on my kids)”
In another small modest mud house in Rajouri Kadal, where police and CRPF faced stiff resistance from stone pelting youth, Ghulam Rasool Khan is caught in the jigsaw of his life. Coming to terms with life is difficult. His son was paralysed by two bullets years back, but as the lone breadwinner of the family now, he has to think of feeding his family first - bed-ridden paralyzed son, wife and a daughter.
“The undeclared curfew is driving us to starvation. We have nothing to eat except dry rice and a curry of spices. For the whole day I keep switching news channels just to hear any news about relaxation but nothing happens. We need to purchase essential goods for my daughter and his newly born son,” rues Khan, an auto-rickshaw driver.
His daughter Nusrat needs a check up in hospital as her surgical stitches have contacted infection. “I am in distress. We need to go to hospital but the police outside our home are not allowing us,” said Nusrat, her voice choked with pain.
Nusrat was not getting proper diet because of the restrictions and is unable to properly feed her two month baby. “I can’t see my son crying through all day. To quell his hunger I provide him with few spoons of warm water as we are not allowed even to purchase milk,” she says.
Many patients like Nusrat in different localities faced similar situations during the curfew.
People are missing from the dusty, narrow, deserted lanes and rundown areas, where curfew seems to be a hazy and meaningless law and order. Sensitive points of the city roads are flooded with paramilitary vehicles.
People in several areas of old city were stopped from offering Friday prayers. Friday prayers could not be offered at the historic Jamia Masjid either.
“We suffer for the sins that we have not committed .What is more unfortunate and inhuman that we were not allowed to venture out of our homes to offer prayers not even on Friday,” lamented Haji Abdul Waheed, a resident of old city. “The cops threatened us of dire consequences in case we tried to move out of our homes.”
Khalid Gul, 10, a resident of Zaina Kadal is peeping through a windowpane to the street moistened by a drizzly afternoon as the sun plays hide and seek. He is scary to have an open view from the window. “Police beat me ruthlessly in last year’s Amarnath land row. I was going to attend my tuitions and had done nothing wrong,” he says.
Khalid’s parents say that they are sceptical to allow their child for tuitions. They don’t even allow his friends to visit their home fearing police thrashing.
“Entire Kashmir is a jail. Police have license to kill. I can afford to keep him illiterate but I can’t lose my only son,” says Hameeda.
“khuda thavin saerin masoom bachan majoood, amis saan (May Allah bless every child along with mine),” she prays.
At some places neighbours helped each other out. “We gave some potatoes and onion to our neighbours. They had nothing to cook.” said Rehati, a resident of Saraf Kadal in old locality.
Devotees of Sufi Saint Sultan-Ul-Arifeen Hazrat Makhdoom Saheb, popularly known as Makhdoom Saheb had to face lot of problems too as most of them could not make it to the annual Urs at the shrine.
“This curfew restricted us from participating in the two weeks of devotional services in shrine. Albeit, all pilgrims from all parts of the valley flock the shrine for prayers and blessings but no devotee was allowed to visit the place,” says Gulzar Ahmed Draboo.
The entire area witnessed a deserted look as both the residents and people from adjacent areas were not allowed to attend nightlong prayers.
“This Urs is mostly attended by thousands of devotees and religious scholars, who shed light on the life and the spiritual stature of the saint. The entire area is abuzz on this religious festival. But, this curfew snatched even our religious freedom,” Draboo adds amid sobs.