Strife-torn Kashmir sprang to life on Saturday as offices, shops and business establishments opened for full working hours for the first time since the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani on July 8.
The Valley gained a degree of normalcy after 133 days of unrest, which claimed 91 lives, as separatist leaders called off their strike for the weekend.
Separatists Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik gave the relaxation in shutdown after a meeting with members of civil society, senior citizens, lawyers and religious groups.
In some areas of Srinagar, shops had defied the strike call and begun operations, but most of them did business only during the ‘dusk-dawn relaxation’ period.
Traffic on Srinagar roads witnessed an increase on Saturday as residents came out of their houses to attend to important business matters and visit markets.
The ongoing board examinations that are being conducted under tight security have acted as a harbinger of normalcy in turmoil-hit Kashmir.
However, the calm in the region could be short-lived as according to the separatists’ weekly protest calendar, there will be no relaxation in strike on Monday and Tuesday. There will be a 15-hour relaxation period on Wednesday and Thursday.
Authorities restored mobile internet services on post-paid numbers on Friday night after they were suspended for over four months. But internet facility on prepaid numbers continued to be suspended till the time of filing this report.
Increased turnout in schools
For the first time since the unrest broke out in the Valley, government and private schools witnessed a huge turnout of students on Saturday.
“There was an improvement in the attendance of students in the government schools. Though we could not provide books for the next session but remedial classes are being held in the schools,” said Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, director school education department, Kashmir, adding that he had requested parents to send their wards to the schools.
Private schools association of Kashmir said most of the Valley’s private schools opened on Saturday, with the exception of missionary schools and Delhi Public School, Srinagar.