To stay indoors or not: A day in Kashmir marked with indecision

  • Abhishek Saha, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Jul 22, 2016 01:09 IST
Kashmiri men read the morning newspaper at a newspaper store despite the curfew in Srinagar on Thursday. Newspapers hit the stands this morning in Kashmir after a gap of five days. (Waseem Andrabi/ HT Photo)

Thursday was marked with indecision regarding curfew and restrictions in Kashmir and locals were caught in a virtual tussle between a call given by the separatist leadership and orders of the state authorities.

In the protest calendar released by the joint leadership of both factions of Hurriyat Conference and the Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) it was said that on Thursday the shutdown will be only half-day, till 2pm.

A statement by them had urged people to stock up essential commodities in view of the ongoing agitation.

A large section of people were under the impression since morning that parallel to the call, the state-imposed curfew and restriction would also be eased and people would be allowed to move about.

They were caught in a dilemma and news – along with rumours – started to spread about strict restrictions being imposed even in areas where it had been comparatively eased since the last few days.

The front page of one of the newspapers in Srinagar on Thursday. (Waseem Andrabi/ HT Photo)

Minutes before the clock struck 2, a police spokesperson sent a press release saying that the curfew and restriction won’t be relaxed until further orders.

“There will no relaxation in curfew and restrictions across the Kashmir valley. The curfew and restrictions will remain strictly in place throughout the day till further orders,” the statement read.

But what many described as a pro-separatist tendency of a majority Kashmiri population was the gradual increase of traffic on the roads of Srinagar after 2pm.

HT witnessed that by late afternoon certain areas of the city saw a considerable traffic and pedestrian movement as people defied curfew and followed the call given by the joint separatist leadership.

Petrol stations in some areas of the city opened in the afternoon and saw long queues of motorbikes and cars. This was despite the fact that in many areas authorities imposed strict restrictions.

Meanwhile, the government’s decision to open schools in four districts on Thursday came with a tinge of confusion.

Paramilatary soldier checks a medicine prescription of an old Kashmir couple during curfew in Srinagar. (Waseem Andrabi / HT Photo )

The government had announced that schools in four districts Budgam, Baramulla, Bandipora and Ganderbal were to re-open on Thursday after summer holidays and the announcement implied that that curfew-like restriction would be removed.

This was in contradiction to an earlier government order that extended the schools’ summer vacation in Kashmir till July 25.

But sources said that students did not turn-up and practically the institutes remained closed.

The news agency PTI even reported in the morning saying that authorities “lifted curfew in four districts of Kashmir where schools were scheduled to reopen today”.

But the police statement in the afternoon was opposite to that.

Sources also said that in Bandipora district restrictions were in specially place because in Gurez area there were large scale protests in the morning against a “biased” report by a private news channel.

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