SRINAGAR: The political deadlock in Kashmir Valley is unlikely to end soon after the separatist leadership indicated yesterday it will not call of its protest program following a marathon meeting with the stakeholders here.

In the day-long meeting between the powerful Hurriyat trio of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik at the former's Hyderpora residence here, sources said discussions were held on the "future strategy of protests" that have swept the region following the killing of Burhan Wani.

According to a Hurriyat spokesman, the meeting was attended by various stakeholders including representatives of hoteliers and transporters, who have been the worst-hit during the ongoing agitation, business bodies, civil society and heads of social and political groupings.

While the meeting was going on, sources said pro-freedom protests broke out outside the venue, forcing the separatist trio and other participants to pause the proceedings and take stock of the situation as demonstrators kept demanding that the protest program of the Hurriyat must continue.

"70 percent of the participants have voted for continuing the protest program," a Hurriyat leader told the protesters, evoking anti-India and pro-freedom slogans in the area from where the security teams were pulled out ahead of the meeting to avoid any confrontation.

Later, addressing the media, the octogenarian Geelani said the participants have authorised the Hurriyat to "continue the freedom struggle with zeal and passion. It was emphasized upon both, leadership and nation, to remain steadfast and committed to take the struggle to its logical end".

“It was unanimously decided that the Hurriyat program will be followed in letter and spirit and whosoever violates it will be convinced and conveyed that discipline and resilience is important for achieving our goal...” he added.

Sources said there were discordant voices in the meeting who argued that the continued shutdown was impacting the social and economic fabric of the state but others argued that "people will have to bear small costs for achieving larger good of the society".

The Hurriyat leadership, however, indicated that there might be further relaxation in the shutdown call, which urged people to open their businesses only after 5 pm and that too on only four days in a week, including Sunday.

"We have patiently listened to the suggestions from the representatives of different sections of society which will be kept in consideration while formulating the next protest program. We hope that people would follow it in letter and spirit," Mirwaiz said.

Sources said the participants unanimously agreed that the Class 10 and Class 12 board exams should be held in March next year and there should be "no compromise" on the quality of education imparted to students.

The state government has already announced that, while the exams will be held on schedule next week with 50 percent syllabus relaxation, those students who are not prepared and want to appear later, will have to write their papers in March next year with no relaxation.

The continuation of the protest calendar will shadow the PDP-BJP coalition government's efforts to restore normalcy in the restive Valley where at least 94 civilians have been killed to control protests since the killing of Burhan Wani.

(Cover Photograph BASIT ZARGAR: participants arriving for the Hurriyat meeting in Srinagar)