Shutdown affects life in Kashmir Valley

  • Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Apr 11, 2015 23:35 IST

Shops and business establishments remained closed in Kashmir on Saturday to protest against separate townships for Kashmiri Pandits who had fled the region after militancy erupted in early 90s.

While public transport was off the road, many private cars could be seen plying on the roads. Government offices and banks witnessed thin attendance. Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were deployed in large number to maintain law and order situation in sensitive areas of Srinagar.

The protest call was given by separatist leadership after the central and the state governments announced that land would be procured for a 'composite township' to facilitate the return of the migrant community.

The opposition and the separatists have criticised the plan "as a conspiracy to create communal division by separating the region's population along the religious lines."

Separatists, including those in the hardline camp headed by Syed Ali Geelani, moderate camp headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and JKLF headed by Yasin Malik have called for a shutdown on Saturday to protest against proposal to set up townships for Kashmiri Pandits.

The separatists have been comparing the proposed townships to the Israeli-type settlements. Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, however, clarified that there were no plans of setting up separate townships for the Kashmiri Pandits, but steps will be taken for return of the minority community to the Valley.

The day, however, passed peacefully and no violence was reported anywhere from the city. Protest demonstrations were held at some places, including Maisuma area of Lal Chowk on Friday. More than two dozen people were injured here as security forces and JKLF supporters clashed after their leader Yasin Malik was detained during a protest march against moves to set up separate enclaves for pandits in the Valley.

Meanwhile, many mainstream leaders had also supported the shutdown call. MLA Langate Engineer Rashed has asked the Mufti government to treat it as the warning shot "against its nefarious designs to fulfill the anti-Kashmiri, vicious and fascist agenda on Kashmir."

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