Ahead of week-long protests, ‘Kashmiris lick ice-creams one last time’ | india | Hindustan Times
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Ahead of week-long protests, ‘Kashmiris lick ice-creams one last time’

india Updated: Jul 17, 2010 19:49 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

Chaos has completely taken over this shop in Srinagar's trouble-spot Lal Chowk. The double-storey shop, Erena, is jam packed with families, students, officer-goers, young couples and retirees: all having ice-creams, as a customer put it, "as if licking creams one last time".

After a month-long unrest, curfews and security restrictions, separatists withdrew shutdown call on Saturday till 2 pm only to witness the entire Srinagar population on the roads, in banks, in grocery shops, in electronic goods shops, in garment shops – you name it.

"You never know in Kashmir when one gets to taste ice creams next time. I brought kids along. They have tasted it long back. Two, it was an outing after weeks of blood and gore," said Shahid Malik, a government employee.

Separatists have given another week-long shutdown call till next Sunday, with which Kashmir will enter into fifth week of public unrest and street protests. Since June 11, 15 people have died in protests and security forces action.

"I wanted to see sun shining again in Lal Chowk. This is where my office is. I used to see it daily but for the past one month, one failed to see normal crowd. It's just soldiers around on most of the days. I attended office thrice in the last month," said an employee of a private bank, while ordering "Mango shake with ice-cream".

Everybody is gulping down ice-cream quickly and staring at the solitary wall-hanging clock. "Lal Chowk will shut again by 2 pm in response to separatists' call. We need to pass stone-pelting areas in downtown home. It's better to start early," said Muntaha, a student.

One can easily overhear a couple parting ways with the words: "Let's pray we see each other again. You never know," said the boy with girl replying "Insha-Allah (God willing)".

Fear of death and anger is palpable on raging streets of Kashmir.

From Sunday, the entire valley and its residents will be locked down for a week in their houses in the wake of separatist shutdown call and the fear that the authorities might impose curfew or curfew-like restrictions to keep people inside.