Faced with lukewarm response and dwindling support, hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has issued a less demanding protest calendar for the next two weeks.
Geelani has scaled down shutdown days to just one and called for hourly peaceful protests on two days — between 2.00 and 3.00 pm on Tuesday and after Friday prayers on December 3.
This is a huge departure from his earlier protest calendars that allowed just a day of normalcy in a week.
Geelani’s call for a Valley-wide shutdown on Saturday also evoked a poor response.
Banks, government offices and educational institutions functioned normally in Srinagar. However, the main markets in the city remained closed.
A series of shutdowns in the last five months triggered by the death of a teenager in police action on June 11 has affected life across the valley. A total of 112 people have died in clashes with security forces ever since.
The separatist leader has been issuing protest calendars on a weekly basis as part of the Hurriyat’s ‘Quit Kashmir’ campaign and to highlight Kashmir problem internationally.
Encouraged by the declining public response, authorities have not been imposing any restrictions on shutdown days for a while now.
“The situation is normal and under control...,” a police spokesperson said.
Kashmir’s leading dailies, over the past month, have also been criticising Geelani’s shutdown politics.
Geelani, however, said his party would continue the struggle for right to self-determination in Kashmir. “If we come to protest on roads, we are being showered with bullets. What else are we left with? Either we have to surrender and give legitimacy to the Indian military occupation or we have fight for our rights.”
People shouldn’t behave as mute spectators to state terrorism, he said. “Despite tall claims, political prisoners were not released by the government. The nation cannot forget its leaders who are behind the bars ..,” Geelani said.