Kashmir, which has been paralysed by protests in the last four months, is slowly returning to normalcy, with separatist calls for shutdowns receiving lukewarm responses.
The moderate separatists are quietly distancing themselves from the protest calendar issued by the hardliners. “Geelani sahib deals with hartals. We just don’t oppose it,” said a moderate Hurriyat leader. He was referring to hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani who has been calling for shutdowns as part of the Quit Kashmir campaign.
Other than on days when the government imposes curfews, the streets don’t wear a deserted look despite shutdown calls by some separatists.
The frequency of protests has gone down and night curfew has been lifted.
The situation was peaceful on Wednesday though a shutdown call was given and curfew was lifted from all but some places in Sopore in North Kashmir.
Analysts attribute the change to multiple reasons. “The focus on nocturnal raids, crackdowns and arrests and also the change in the strategy by the administration can be some reasons,” said Gul Wani, a political science professor at Kashmir University. According to Wani, the eight-point formula announced by the Centre has nothing to do with the change, as “it doesn’t seem to have trickled down to the masses”.
On Wednesday private vehicles and auto rickshaws were on the roads and some shops in Srinagar’s main market remained partially open for a while.
“We keep our fingers crossed and open shops half way. It is the wedding season and winter is approaching. This is the time we can work or we will have to wind up,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, (name changed), a shop owner in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk. However, a certain section of people refuse to give up. “Some reports say 2,000 have been arrested and thousands injured,” said a protester. “How can one give up like this?”