India

Separatist Shutdown Affects Life in Kashmir

BeyondHeadlines Special Correspondent

Srinagar: Normal life across Muslim majority areas of Indiancontrolled Kashmir including the capital city Srinagar today came to a halt in response to a shutdown call by hardline separatist alliance Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, officials and locals said.

The shutdown call was given by Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani to protest the alleged arrest spree and continuous detention of separatist leaders and youth in the region.

All shops, business establishments and private offices remained closed. The attendance in government offices and banks remained thin in wake of the strike call.

The movement of vehicular traffic also remained disrupted to a large extent in Srinagar city. Similar reports were received from other district headquarters as well. “Situation is normal and under control. So far there are no reports of any untoward incident from any place,” said a police spokesman.

Separatists in the region have been demanding end of New Delhi’ s rule in the region.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the psyche of majority of Kashmiris. Muslim majority areas of the region witnessed massive protest demonstrations for months together in the summers of 2010. More than 100 civilians were killed and scores were wounded in police and paramilitary shooting on protesters in public protests.

Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir arrested hundreds of youth including separatists following last year’s massive protests. The arrests are part of the continuing crackdown to stop further protests. Though some have been released still many are undergoing detention.

Separatists and pro-Indian parties are criticizing region’s Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for the arrests. Recently former Chief Minister of Indian-controlled Kashmir, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed accused Abdullah led government of creating hurdles in bringing peace to the region. He even urged separatists to forge consensus with his party on common points, which include release of prisoners, removal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and troop-cut from civilian areas.

Friday evening, a pro-Independent group Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) staged a candle light sit-in to protest against the ongoing crackdown on the youth. The JKLF chairman Yasin Malik said the protest was a symbolic gesture to divert the attention of people towards the continuous human rights violations and detention of the youth in the region.

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