Addressing a press briefing at the Officer's Training Academy in Chennai, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Bipin Rawat on Monday dismissed reports that the Kashmir Valley is under clampdown. COAS Bipin Rawat gave in-depth details which contradict to reports of a stringent clampdown in the valley following the abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian government.
The COAS said that ever since Article 370 was scrapped, there have been no instances of killings. He also said that violence in Kashmir is down and terrorism is being supressed. The Army Chief also said that ground situation in the valley is normal.
"Ground situation in Kashmir is normal and violence is down. Terrorists have been kept at bay. I do not agree that there is clampdown."
He further stated that the pressure exerted upon locals in the valley will soon be eased down. Bipin Rawat further said that daily life in Srinagar has not been affected. He also spoke about local businesses functioning normally. Some of these include, sand collection. "If you go to Jhelum River, you will see people collecting large amounts of sand on boats. The sand is further loaded onto the trucks. Who is collecting this sand? It's obvious that people are coming out," the Army Chief said. Bipin Rawat also spoke about apple orchards, where apples are being packed into boxes meant for transportation out of valley. He stressed upon the fact that hundreds of trucks are present in the valley for transporting the apples. Talking about brick kilns, he said:
"If there's a clampdown, how is it possible that all brick kilns close to Srinagar are operational? There is smoke coming out of these brick kilns." said Rawat.
The Army Chief attributed the clampdown to terrorists in the valley. He said that the clampdown is a facade of terrorists. Talking about closed shops in the valley, Rawat confirmed that the front shutters of the shops are down. However, he dismissed these reports and said that people are going on with their lives with food, water and other supplies. According to Rawat, though the front shutters are down, the shopkeepers are using the backdoors of their establishments for carrying out businesses and daily activities, because the front doors are shut down by the terrorists. Terrorists in the valley have started resorting to issuing threats to locals. "These terrorists are threatning the shopkeepers because they want to project a clampdown."
"The clampdown is a facade of terrorists who don't want things to operate in the valley." said Bipin Rawat
Moreover, COAS also put forth that aircrafts are operational and flying in and out of the Srinagar Airport. He said that buses and cabs are also operational. The Army Chief concluded by rubbishing the reports and said that the clampdown is facade of the terrorists active in the Kashmir Valley.