JEHANGIR ALI | 25 SEPTEMBER, 2016
Finally, Some Respite in Kashmir
SRINAGAR: With the Hurriyat Conference relaxing their 'protest calender' for the first time after nearly 12 weeks of shutdown and curfew against the killing of Burhan Wani, Kashmir Valley is bracing up for an eventful Sunday afternoon.
Through their 'protest calender', the powerful Hurriyat trio of Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, have announced relaxation in strike from 2 in the afternoon today till 6 on Monday morning.
It is the first such relaxation during daytime since the July 8 encounter of Burhan Wani, which has brought cheer on the faces of besieged people in the Valley who have remained under curfew for nearly three months.
The government offices and educational institutions of the Valley are, however, closed on account of public holiday.
"It is a good move," Abdul Rashid, a vendor in Karan Nagar locality of Srinagar, said, "How long can people sustain if they don't have any source of livelihood and they are not allowed to work at the same time?"
Mr Rashid, a fruit vendor, said his earnings dipped by "70 to 80 percent" since the Hizb commander was killed in the encounter in south Kashmir's Kokernag, sparking a civilian uprising which has resulted in the killing of over 80 protesters.
"Thanks to Almighty, life is moving on. But I know many labourers who are living off the charity by neighbours and well-wishers since they are unable to find any work. The shutdown and curfew has taken a huge toll on them," he said.
In her first party meeting since Burhan's killing, J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti yesterday cautioned New Delhi against using any military option to avenge the deadly Uri attack which left 18 Army soldiers and four unidentified gunmen dead.
A week after the attack on the Army base near the frontier Uri town sparked cries of retaliation against Pakistan across the country, Mehbooba said any hostility in the region will take a toll on people of Jammu and Kashmir.
"War hysteria is being created in the region but we will not support it. We are against war with Pakistan. Wars don’t resolve issue. Only a sustained dialogue between India and Pakistan can resolve the vexing Kashmir issue," she said.
Meanwhile, anticipating an outpouring of people, authorities have lifted curfew from almost all parts of Kashmir today with a large number of shoppers and traders gathering in Lal Chowk, the largest marketplace in capital Srinagar, to resume business.
"Deployments have been kept on standby and, in some cases, removed entirely. We are closely monitoring the situation," a senior police officer in Srinagar said, adding that road blockades on the peripheral areas have affected influx of commuters to the city.
However, curfew was imposed in Kishtwar district today morning following massive protests against the arrest of three persons, including two imams, during a night raid by police.
According to police sources, the two religious scholars were named along with at least 16 persons in cases of sedition for allegedly raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans during protests on the day of Eid-ul-Azha.