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Four years of shutdown in 17 years of J&K strife

Official records show a total of 1,463 strikes in the Kashmir Valley from January,'90 to February,'07 which have left a deep impact on the economy of J&K.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2007 10:07 IST
Sarwar Kashani
Sarwar Kashani

The Jammu and Kashmir Valley has lost over 1,400 working days - or nearly four years - to shutdown calls during 17 years of turmoil, dealing a crippling blow to its economy.

Strike calls have been a general expression of protests by separatists and terrorists groups since an armed insurgency erupted in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989.

According to official records, 207 strikes were observed in 1991 when militancy and public sentiment favouring separatism was at its peak. That year, offices and business establishments remained open for less than 100 days, with Sundays and public holidays accounting for only 52 of the off days.

In all, a total of 1,463 strikes were observed in the Jammu and Kashmir Valley from January 1990 to February 2007, official records show.

The general strikes, paralysing routine life and business in Jammu and Kashmir, have left a deep impact on the economy of Jammu and Kashmir and have badly hit the students and business community in the valley.

Even though it is difficult to estimate the economic losses, "four years of no working days would of course amount to billions of dollars", says Tajammul Qadiri, an associate executive in a Delhi branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank.

"Four years of no work means a lot. The period is enough to paralyse nations."

Qadiri added: "Kashmir mainly thrives on an agrarian economy. However, small business enterprises, students and government offices have been disastrously affected by the routine strikes."

Statistics given out by the information department reveal that 198 days of strike were observed in 1990 followed by 148 in 1992 and 139 in 1993.

According to this data, people observed 97 strikes in 1994 and 24 strikes in 1999.

As many as 89 strikes were observed in 1995, 95 in 1996, 72 in 1997, 41 in 2000, 122 in 2001, 77 in 2002 and 58 in 2003.

However, of late, the habit of resorting to 'shutdown politics' has died down as separatists and terrorists have come under severe criticism from various quarters. 2005 saw the lowest number of strikes - 18.

In Jammu and Kashmir, annual shutdown calls on certain dates have become routine since 1990.

People usually observe strikes on Aug 15 (India's Republic Day), Jan 26 (Independence Day), Feb 11 (the day when separatist leader Mohammad Maqbool Bhat was hanged in Tihar jail in 1984), May 21 (death anniversary of Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq), July 13 (Martyrs Day) and Oct 27 (the day when troops landed for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir to repulse the Pakistani attack in 1947).

First Published: Apr 26, 2007 09:37 IST