Kashmir unrest: is it come alive after 79 days of shutdowns and curfew ?

NEW DELHI,ISHFAQ-UL-HASSAN : Srinagar came alive with unusual hustle and bustle after 79 days of shutdowns and curfew on Sunday.

For the first time since the unrest began, markets opened in the Valley during daytime on Sunday. Traffic snarls were back and streets were filled with shoppers. However, public transport was missing as transporters decided to stay back since the relaxation in curfew was only for half a day.

The group which calls itself the Joint Resistance Leadership, headed by Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, incarcerated moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Umar Farooq and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohommad Yasin Malik, has asked people to resume shutdowns during day from Monday and asked shopkeepers to open their shops from 6pm only.

Ajaz Ahmad, 45, a small-time wholesaler dealing with bakery items, in the sensitive old city could not believe that he is opening his shop after 79 days. With a turnover of Rs 50 lakh per month, Ahmad has suffered a loss of Rs 3 lakh so far. “I suffered a net loss of Rs 1 lakh per month. Besides losing business, I have to pay idle wages to my employees, which cost me another Rs 25,000,” he said.

Figures released by Kashmir business chambers show that the Valley has suffered financial losses worth more than Rs 10,000 crore since the unrest began after Indian security forces killed Hizb-ul-Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani on July 8. The tourism sector alone suffered a loss of around Rs 3,000 crore due to the unrest. The fruit industry, the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy, suffered a loss of Rs 1,000 crore.

“We incur a loss of Rs 120-135 crore each day. The government has to see why it is happening. Kashmir is a political issue and it should be solved politically. Unconditional talks should be held with those spearheading this movement. But unfortunately, the government is acting as a silent spectator,” said Mohammad Yasin Khan, chairman, Kashmir Economic Alliance, an apex body of trade, transport, tourism and allied sectors.

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said: “The government will provide succor in the revival of economy but those who are out to damage the state’s interests and keep the pot boiling will have to change their mindset and methods so that the people do not suffer”.

In the last 24 hours, the police have arrested 39 more miscreants who were wanted for harassing shopkeepers, disrupting traffic movement and damaging public/private property.

“Trouble-makers will not be allowed to take law into their hands and they would be dealt with firmly,” said Dr SP Vaid, director-general of police (law and order). The only way to make the population survive is to make sure that the city stays open and the people can go about their business.