Srinagar: Last Sunday night, after covering a couple of impromptu press conferences, I was heading to my office in Srinagar’s Mushtaq Press Enclave, but instead drove home in another city area after a journalist friend called up on my mobile to say that indefinite curfew was being clamped on Srinagar and the media would not be issued any curfew passes.
By midnight, even the broadband facility on fixed phone lines was withdrawn. Minutes earlier, I updated my copy on the unfolding developments. I also tweeted about the grim situation in Srinagar, with residents appearing to be reduced to frightened pigeons and finding nine ATMs out of cash.
We woke up the next morning to find even landlines dead and none of the TV news channels, except for Doordarshan, available. AIR’s Srinagar station reported that the Valley was under curfew and restrictions under Section 144 CrPC had been imposed in many areas of Jammu too.
After a quick breakfast, I left for my office but was stopped by the police at a makeshift checkpoint in Srinagar’s Nigeen area. After disclosing my identity, a police officer “advised” that since passing via central Srinagar could be “risky”, I should take the alternate Foreshore Road route to reach the city centre.
While driving back towards Hazratbal, I removed the “Press” sticker from my car’s windscreen. I have done it in such situations earlier too, and it proved helpful.
I was again stopped by uniformed men, this time CRPF personnel, at Duck Park along Foreshore Road. Without flaunting my professional tag, I req-uested them to allow me to drive up to Nishat Garden. “Jao... jaldi niklo (Go, hurry up)”, they said.
Just outside the famed Mughal Gardens overlooking Dal Lake, my attempt to repeat the gambit with another posse of mixed security personnel failed however. I was asked to show my identity card, and when I did so an officer ordered me to turn my car back.
This newspaper’s veteran Kashmir correspondent filed this account through a friend travelling to New Delhi....