Shahr-e-Khaas” agony

Old Srinagar city, or the Shahr-e-Khaas, home to over half a million people, is in dire straits. As if the agony of the last 27 years was not enough, the frequent state-imposed restrictions or curfew have made life quite miserable for its people. Presumably, the government's thinking behind the frequent restrictions there is guided by a flawed logic that such restrictions would prevent public protests and maintain calm. Even if there are certain situations and times when the law and order machinery mobilises its resources to pre-empt violent situations in a plausible manner, the unjustifiably frequent restrictions imposed in the old city on people's movement and business do raise a question mark on their intentions. It has been seen that quite often, contrary to the state's claims of pre-empting violence, people of Old Srinagar try to go about their normal business but are prevented from doing so. This situation has had severe social, economic and psychological implications for the people of Old Srinagar. Economic implications could be seen from closure of businesses, lack of job avenues, shifting of the traditional economic activities and real estate slump from there. Socially, Old Srinagar is witnessing quite an unfavourable transformation, manifesting in a ghetto temperament, which is only breeding isolation and non-productivity. There is evidence to suggest that there is an epidemic of psychological distress among the old city's population, particularly among children and women. The government must seriously reconsider the practice of frequent restrictions in the city. Such practices will not translate into, what government believes, submission and peace. These practices, on the contrary, will only breed alienation and disenchantment. 

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