She recited a verse written by poet Dina Nath Kaul, which roughly translates to, “Our country is like the flowering Shalimar Bagh, like the blooming lotus in Dal Lake and like the warm blood of our youth”.
Several people on Twitter pointed out the irony of using a Kashmiri phrase when prominent politicians and many civilians of Kashmir are still under detention and the government imposed the longest ever internet shutdown in a democracy on the people of the new union territory.
National Conference leaders Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti were detained when the government announced the abrogation of Article 370 and the division of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) recently received flak for taking a dig at Omar Abdullah after an unverified picture of him went viral.
Low-speed mobile internet was only restored last week, but officials said “only white listed websites, excluding social media sites, can be accessed”.
The internet shutdown caused significant losses to businesses and tourism in the region, as Al-Jazeera pointed out. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry had said in December that the lockdown in Kashmir led to a loss of Rs 17,878 crore to the Kashmir economy.
Tourist arrivals in Kashmir also fell after 5 August, 2019. According to an Indiaspend analysis, the number of tourists between August and December in 2019 fell 86% as compared with last year. An estimate by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry puts job losses in Kashmir’s tourism and handicrafts sector at 144,500 since August 5.
Many schools have remained shut since 5 August, when the government stripped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Tuition centres too were ordered to shut down, according to The Wire.
India also dropped ten places to the 51st spot in the The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2019 Democracy Index released last month. The report cited the abrogation of Article 370 and said that the “government deployed a large number of troops in J&K, imposed various other security measures and placed local leaders under house arrest, including those with pro-India credentials.”
(With PTI inputs)