A paramilitary trooper patrols at the top of a hill in Srinagar. Governor Satya Pal Malik says communication curbs helped save many lives. Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi: Governor Satya Pal Malik on Sunday denied that there was a shortage of medicines and essential commodities in Jammu and Kashmir and said communication curbs helped save many lives.

Malik also said no life was lost in Jammu and Kashmir due to any violence in the last 10 days after the abrogation of the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and its division into two Union Territories.

“If blockade of communication helps saves lives, what is the harm?” he told reporters when asked to comment on how long the restrictions will continue.

Malik said that in the past, whenever there was a crisis in Kashmir, at least 50 people used to die in the first week itself.

“Our attitude is that there should be no loss of human life. If there is no phone connection for 10 days, so be it. But, we will restore everything soon,” he said.

Malik said there has been no shortage of medicines and essential commodities anywhere in Jammu and Kashmir and enough stocks were available for the people to buy.

“In fact, we delivered meat, vegetables and eggs to people’s doorsteps on Eid,” he added.

The Governor was in the national capital to pay his respects to former Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who died on Saturday at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

State government spokesman Rohit Kansal said that out of 96,000 landlines, over 80,000 have already been made functional, although the broadband internet facility on these connections continues to be suspended.

With the continuing suspension of all cellular phone services, BSNL landlines have become the only means of communication between the valley and the outside world.

“This has resulted in a huge rush of prospective subscribers at all the BSNL offices in the valley. Subscribers who had given up BSNL landline connections are paying their over dues to have their phones restored. In addition, thousands of others have applied to obtain fresh landline connections during the last five days. Our staff has been working 24x7 to maintain exchanges for uninterrupted connectivity while those posted at the main offices are processing applications for new connections,” said a senior executive of BSNL, Srinagar.

A Minority Affairs Ministry team will visit the Kashmir Valley for two days from Tuesday to identify the areas to implement centrally-sponsored development projects after provisions of Article 370 were abrogated, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

He also said that those opposing the government’s withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, acting as per their “political prejudice”, will also come around to support the move after seeing its impact.

“A team of senior officials, including the secretary, will be visiting the area [Kashmir Valley] on August 27-28. The team will explore development possibilities — where schools, colleges, skill development centres can be opened,” Naqvi said.

The team will look at all possibilities of social-economic development projects, he said.