Two “Orders” Trigger A New Kashmir Panic

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by Saima Bhat 

SRINAGAR: Any order of urgency sparks panic in Kashmir. Before August 5 last year, multiple orders, initially termed as rumours later became the reality after the abrogation of special status.

In the last couple of days, two separate government orders, dated June 26 and 27 on the storage of adequate LPG stocks in the valley and on vacating of school buildings for forces personnel in central Kashmir’s district Ganderbal, have triggered a fresh wave of anxiety among the locals.

Flagged as “matter most urgent”, the Director of the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department Kashmir has written a letter to the state level coordinator Indian Oil  Corporation Limited, Jammu requesting to ensure sufficient stocks of LPG in the valley. The officer has sighted reason for frequent highway closure as a basis for stocking the essential item. “The Advisor (F) to the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor, UT of J&K in a meeting convened on 23-06-2020 has passed directions to ensure sufficient stocks of LPG in the valley as the supply of the same gets affected due to closure of the National Highway on account of frequent landslides, due to which the consumers face a lot of inconvenience in availing their LPG refills from the concerned LPG distributors,” read the letter.

According to the communication, “the Oil Marketing Companies (IOCL/HPCL/BPCL) should make adequate stocks of LPG which can last up to two months both at bottling plants as well as godowns of LPG distributors at the district level in order to ensure smooth and uninterrupted supply of LPG to the consumers of the respective Oil Marketing Companies.”

Interestingly, this is for the first time that the administration has decided to stock up LPG cylinders at the peak of summer. Usually, such measures are taken before the onset of winter in Kashmir.

In a separate correspondence, the Superintendent of Police, Ganderbal, has requested 16 educational institutes in the district, including ITI buildings, middle, and higher secondary schools are vacated for the accommodation of forces personnel in the district. “In view of SANJY-2020 and due to dearth of accommodation facilities in District Ganderbal for incoming CAPF (Central Armed Police Force) Coys, it is requested that the below-mentioned accommodation centres/education institutes may kindly be made available for the accommodation of CAPF Coys (companies) during the period of SANJY-2020,” read the letter.

Given the China-India standoff and Ganderbal being nearby to Kargil in the Union Territory of Ladakh, this is perceived to be a crisis by the locals.

As per the communication, the educational institutions asked to be vacated are, “Boys Higher Secondary School Nunner, near Maternity centre, Boys Higher Secondary School Manigam, Govt. Girls Hr Sec School Kangan, Govt. Boys Hr Sec School Kangan, Degree College Kangan, ITI Kangan, Govt Middle School Margund, Govt Higher secondary school Cheerwan, Govt Middle School Dardwooder, Govt Middle School Pakhtoon Pati Mammer, Boys High school Hariganiwan, High School Sumbal, Govt Middle School Fraw, Boys Higher Secondary School Gund, Boys Higher secondary school Kullan and High School Gangangeer.”

Given the upcoming Amarnath Yatra likely to be a low-key affair, an officer in administration does not see such build-up as a “normal”.  “This time we have very few pilgrims and short duration of Yatra, but vacating educational institutions is beyond the routine.”

Commenting upon the development, National Conference (NC) vice president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah took on to twitter to express his concern. “Government orders are creating panic in Kashmir & unfortunately after all the lies & false assurances last year even if/when the government explains these orders hardly any of us will take the assurances at face value. That said they still need to explain these orders,” he wrote.

Omar’s erstwhile advisor Tanvir said these orders need clarity at the highest level. “It’s summer so not many landslides. Stock for two months. Matter most urgent. These three point need clarity at the highest level. People of Kashmir can’t afford to live in yet another year of fear and uneasiness,” he wrote on Twitter.

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