Govt resorts to advt blitz to end unrest
Srinagar, Aug 24: Struggling to find a way out of the prevailing unrest in Kashmir Valley, the Jammu and Kashmir government seems to have found a novel of trying to “convince” the people about the consequences of the frequent strikes and shutdowns.
The Government has started publishing advertisements in local newspapers to counter the strike calls by the separatists. For the past three days, different government departments are issuing advertisements highlighting their “achievements and functioning” during the past two months of unrest in Kashmir.
For instance, the Department of Education, issued an advertisement which read: “Majority of Schools of the state functional; Only Srinagar city and some towns affected.” The advertisement gave “zone-wise percentage of students who have attended the schools during the unrest.” Mockingly, the advertisement showed 100 percent attendance in schools in Jammu, Leh and Kargil divisions, notwithstanding that the crisis was more specific to Kashmir division, where curfew kept students and teachers away from schools.
A day after this ad appeared, the Department issued another ad in Urdu, highlighting in bullet-points the ‘significance of education’. It asked the parents to “introspect and see what their wards would achieve without education and what they would do if their counterparts in Jammu are marching ahead in education.”
On August 23, the Department of Horticulture, Planning and Marketing issued an advertisement which read: “Fruit growers earn Rs 87 cr during last 50 days.” The Valley-based fruit growers, however, refuted the government claims on August 24 saying, “They were rather incurring a huge loss of nearly Rs 100 crores each month presently in wake of prevailing unrest.”
On August 24, the Department of Roads and Buildings stepped in, issuing an advertisement saying “macadamization in full swing in Valley.” It gave the district-wise break up of funds incurred on the “macadamization.” “It may be noted that in Jammu city as a result of timely action, macadamization to the tune of Rs 30 crores has been completed so far while in Srinagar city macadamization worth Rs 7.48 crores has only been done,” the advertisement read.
Another advertisement was issued by the Department of Sericulture saying “1700 cocoon farmers of Anantnag (Islamabad) participated in cocoon auction at Banihal.”
A month back, the Information Department issued advertisements to the local newspapers which read: “What does denying education to children achieve?”, “What does denying healthcare to patients achieve?” The advertisements are issued in both Urdu and English.
While the government is giving an impression that Kashmir is lagging behind on different fronts due to crisis, it has failed to break the stalemate on ground.
A senior government official said the advertisements are being issued keeping in view the “power of the mass media” to reach out to the people. “We are just telling people to introspect and see what we are achieving with the frequent hartals?” the official, pleading anonymity, said. “It is impossible to go door to door and tell people that strikes are not good for the society. So newspapers or television is the best medium to do that.”
The government had adopted a similar strategy when the continued strike by the government employees brought work in offices to a grinding halt earlier this year. The government issued advertisements to “convince” people that it had no money to pay the employees’ arrears. The ads were issued continuously for almost a month.
Observers believe that the crisis was much deeper and would not end by simply issuing ads. “What we are observing in Kashmir is not any ordinary problem. It is serious crisis which needs to be addressed politically and with tangible initiatives. Issuing ads won’t do,” said a political analyst, wishing not to be named.
“Those involved in the civilian killings need to be brought to book. And then the political leaders need to meet people and convince them that the government is there to provide justice in real sense. No cosmetic treatment would end the crisis,” the analyst said. “And you need to show flexible approach towards the crisis and protesters. You are this time booking everyone under Public Safety Act or other laws which is adding fuel to the fire. The government should respect the people’s sentiment and address the crisis in a humane manner.”
Interestingly, apart from the advertisements, the government is issuing circulars and statements asking teachers and other employees to ensure their attendance in educational institutions.
A senior cabinet minister said, “We want to see an end to the crisis somehow. So if we are able to break it by issuing circulars and statements, what’s wrong? We want children to study, not suffer because of strikes.”
Lastupdate on : Tue, 24 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 24 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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