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Is the situation in Kashmir returning to normal? These satellite images hold the answer

ThePrint compares April and October satellite images of various areas of Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar to see if the bustle of activity has returned.

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New Delhi: Since Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was scrapped on 5 August, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was placed under a lockdown, pending its bifurcation into two union territories. Life in the region was disrupted, with no telephone or mobile services, no internet, and the imposition of Section 144.

Three months on, the world has witnessed many claims and counter-claims about normalcy returning to the region, especially to the Kashmir Valley. While post-paid mobile services were restored last month, other services remain suspended. Schools and colleges are still poorly attended, shops only open for a few hours each morning and evening, and politicians from the Valley’s mainstream parties are under arrest/detention.

The government, meanwhile, has said the situation is returning to normal, with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval saying not one bullet has been fired and economic activity is coming back as far back as 7 September. But the administration also put out full-page advertisements in local newspapers last month, questioning the “people’s curfew” and asking “Are we going to succumb to militants?”.

Militants have killed non-Kashmiris in a spate of attacks since October, while 28 members of the European Parliament have visited the Valley to witness the “normalcy” for themselves.

ThePrint has compared satellite imagery from April 2019 and October 2019 and to see what sort of differences can be spotted in Kashmir’s capital Srinagar before and after the scrapping of Article 370 and the clampdown.

Budshah Chowk

Budshah Chowk is located barely 160m north of Srinagar’s famous Lal Chowk. The exclusive commercial satellite images of 5 October have been compared to images from 10 April and 28 February 2019 — the February image has been added because there was 50 per cent cloud cover in the area on 10 April.

Source: Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd.) | ThePrint

More traffic can clearly be seen on the roads in the October image compared to February or April. However, there are fewer parked vehicles in the October image than in the past (visible after zooming in where the building’s shadow is falling).

Budshah flyover

This flyover was recently constructed over Exhibition Chowk, which stands close to most government offices, including the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

Source: Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd.) | ThePrint

The traffic on the roads in the October image (with the flyover) is much higher than that seen in the April image (before the flyover was completed), while parking areas also seem to be fuller.

Karan Nagar

Karan Nagar is where the Government Medical College, Sri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital and Government Dental College are located.

Source: Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd.) | ThePrint

This area also shows an increased number of moving as well as parked vehicles in October compared to April. This indicates that the hospitals are bustling with activity.

Chanpora Bypass Bridge

This is one of the entry points to Srinagar which does not cross the cantonment area of Badami Bagh.

Source: Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd.) | ThePrint

On this new flyover too, there is a considerable increase in traffic in the October image compared to April, though it is interesting to note that outward traffic is more than incoming traffic.

Educational institutions 

The area of Nawakadal has been chosen to show the situation at educational institutions, especially for women and girls — the Government College for Women and the Girls’ Higher Secondary School both stand there.

Source: Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd.) | ThePrint

In the October image, the college premises look totally empty, with the main gate closed. No vehicles belonging to teachers or staff members can be observed inside the premises.

Vehicles parked outside the gate of the college, probably belonging to the students and noticeable on previous satellite images, are also not seen in the October image.

The girls’ school, however, has some vehicles parked inside the premises, indicating the presence of teachers and/or staff.

No barricades

None of the satellite images show any barricades, zig-zag barriers or other traffic management measures, and traffic can be seen flowing smoothly and regularly.

There is also no noticeable deployment of forces in the areas covered.

Also read: North India’s toxic air: NASA images show just how big the stubble burning problem is


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  1. Nice try

    If it’s normal release Kashmiri leaders
    Bring international media
    Open pre paid phones

    These few cars even be going to buy supplies for home
    Poor kids


    • Tomorrow, you will askt to release Pak Terrorists as well on that premise.
      Kashmir political leaders are not owners of Kashmir. They chose to remain the part of the problem than part of the solution.
      Eventually, they would be released too, but they too need to wake with the new reality that they are NOT Kashmir.
      Why bring International Media? We don’t need certificates from others. We need certificates for poor normal people.

  2. Justification by showing sattelite imaginary with non verification of timing and the visit of right wing facist eu mp is not an evidence but knowing the lies and the control over judiciary by this right wing govt. Is beyond beleif. What is india trying to prove that it can create another palestine in kashmir by supressing and imprisoning the democratically elected leaders will eventually lead to recognising the occupation. Its just a matter of time this issue is going to be the largest headache ever suffered by india which will tear its inner self

  3. This comparison is meaningless if you don’t give the hour at which the rwo image have been taken. Apart from the seasonal variation (as others have pointed out below), any city shows variations depending on the time of the day. If you look at the shadows for April and October, they seem to show different times of the day.

    But the best, as Ashok says, is to take journalists there.

  4. We belong from same Kashmir .we didn’t have any option ,our leaders were arrested ..what we did where we go ..if u go to the Spream court they are also bagged by government .This situation is not normal situation in Kashmir .Till 4 Aug 2019 to 11 Nov 2109 internet were suspended .. Transport, education were suspended .is this called normalicy ..if someone speak he/she is arrested ..where we go ??? Being a human justify with Kashmir

    • What was the justification of mass killing of Kashmir Hindus and raping their women and driving them out of home?
      That was Humanity? In 3 months, Humanity is at stake.
      Kashmir is for all and general people have to find the change, not just Kashmir Leaders.

      • There was no mass killing of Hindus in Kashmir! Whatever Hindus were killed, were killed by a handful militants, and not by the bulk of I8ndia-loving Kashmiri people. Why didn’t the central government do a thing to bring back the Hindus who had left Kashir? BJP was also a part of the coalition government that ruled J&K last. Why it didn’t do anything to bring the Hindus back, and rehabilitate them? All you are dooping is repeating LIES, and using them as a tool to beat up on innocent Kashmiris.

  5. Things are not normal in Kashmir
    You get the situation by speaking to people, not by satellite imagery.
    This is not even scientific, you should compare October 2018 to October 2019
    There is the seasonal change in traffic, Your article is bogus and fraudulent.
    What has happened in Kashmir is obscene And an abomination.

  6. April 2019 and October 2019

    How come April versus October comparison

    It should be October 2018 versus October 2019 comparison.

  7. Good! Fair interpretation of the images. Opening the shops for fewer hours may have another reasons: The merchants can hike the price and fleece the buyers.

  8. We should be using satellite imagery to judge how things are in foreign lands, in territories to which we lack access. In Kashmir, tourists, journalists, foreign diplomats should all be welcome to see and judge for themselves.

    • When the government says things are largely “normal”, you won’t believe it though. Far too many people in this business of interpreting “normality” are partisan, of one hue or another
      This is much more objective, more data-driven, and less anecdotal in nature.

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