Kashmir Valley back to life after shutdown

Separatists appeal to people to use public transport to make up for the losses incurred during the last few months

Published - November 20, 2016 01:08 am IST - Srinagar:

Back to business:  Normal life resumed across the Kashmir Valley on Saturday after a four-month paralysis.  — Photo:

Back to business: Normal life resumed across the Kashmir Valley on Saturday after a four-month paralysis. — Photo:

After the shutdown called by separatist groups stretched on for 133 days, Kashmir Valley woke up to a normal morning on Saturday as businesses lifted shutters and educational institutions re-opened to start the next session.

Despite sub-zero temperatures, drivers of the public transport vehicles started their day early. “I am plying my bus for the first time on the Lal Chowk-Soura road since July 8. We are the worst sufferers of the four-month-long shutdown and curfew,” said Abid Rasheed, a driver from Soura.

This was also the first time that private vehicles plied without facing stone-throwers or restrictions by security forces.

The killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8 had plunged the Kashmir Valley in a cycle of deadly street violence, with 94 people dead and over 15,000, including security forces, being injured during this period.

Of late, separatist leaders, especially Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, were facing pressure from the transporters to relax the shutdown to allow them earn their livelihood.

“Pressing concerns of students and sustenance of certain segments of society greatly affected during the last four months have been discussed in our meetings. These concerns have to be addressed while simultaneously carrying our struggle forward,” said the Mirwaiz.

Separatists also appealed to people to use public transport on Saturday and Sunday “to make up for the losses incurred by them.”

The separatists’ full-day relaxation in shutdown calendar, twice a week from Saturday, allowed hundreds of schools to reopen in Valley.

“We have a huge backlog. The government decision to promote students up to Class 9 has put extra pressure to clear the formalities before we start the new session,” said R. Nisa, vice-principal of S.S. Islamia High School in Srinagar.

Kashmir University Vice-Chancellor Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi also chaired a meeting of principals of Kashmir colleges “to discuss the academic scenario in the backdrop of recent circumstances in the Valley.”

The varsity has decided to start undergraduate courses by the end of this month. “The students were advised to visit their institutions regularly to seek redressal of their academic grievances and concerns,” said a varsity spokesman.

Ban on mobile net lifted

The return of normalcy also allowed the authorities to lift the ban, imposed on July 5, on mobile internet services in Kashmir, bringing relief to more than 35 lakh users.

However, internet services on pre-paid users continue to remain barred.

According to police, there was no incidence of violence on Saturday anywhere in the Valley.

However, the police have failed to stop the trend of attacks on Valley schools.

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