Separatist Writ: Friday The New Sunday In Kashmir Valley?30 July 2010
Times of India
Srinagar: Over two decades of insurgency has transformed Kashmir a lot. Daily outings are rare, movies and theatres have virtually disappeared and social functions have mostly become daytime affairs. And now comes a twist to their calendar. For the past few weeks, separatists have been enforcing their own calendar in the Valley, in which Sundays are working days. Even the government and public institutions seem to be giving in to the calendar. Central agencies feel that the change may lead to Sunday being replaced by Friday as the weekly holiday, as has been the norm in Islamic countries. The Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani has been issuing a calendar for every week, with various protests marked out for each day. Many institutions, including banks, Kashmir University and others have rescheduled their programmes now to exploit this separatists calendar. As a result, several recent Sundays have been working days in Kashmir Valley. Heeding the calls of Hurriyat, Kashmir University vice-chancellor Prof Riyaz Punjabi on Saturday decided to cancel all holidays including Sundays. Not to the surprise of many in Kashmir, the university functioned normally on June 25, last Sunday, when Hurriyat had called for a normal day in the Valley. Prof Punjabi said the decision was taken to recoup the time wasted in shutdowns and strikes. 'Teachers need to gear up to complete the syllabus so that all examinations are held on time. So there shall be no holidays in the varsity henceforth, including Sundays, gazetted holidays, summer and winter vacations. It was also decided that the varsity shall operate from 9.30 am to 6 pm with immediate effect,' Punjabi said. State Bank of India and Jammu & Kashmir Bank both kept their branches open last Sunday though it was their holiday under Negotiable Instruments Act. Bank sources said about Rs 25 crore of transaction happened through various ATMs in the Valley on Sunday alone. It was a normal day as per the calendar issued on June 23 by Geelani faction leader Musarat Alam, the man playing a crucial role in this summer's protest in Kashmir. J&K Bank chairman Habseen Drabu, however, had a different argument on the new Hurriyat calendar. He argued that institutions like banks were created for the convenience of people and every step would be taken to help people overcome problems. 'Illegitimate groups are trying to put people in trouble by enforcing strikes and hartals every day. If institutions like ours also contribute to multiplying the problems, then we have no right to head the institutions,' Drabu said. Sensing success of their summer protests including their own calendar, the Hurriyat has now gone a step ahead. It has called upon people not to pay taxes like electric tariff, sales tax, water tax etc to show civil disobedience to the government from July 28. Denying that the Omar Abdullah government had surrendered before the separatists, political advisor to the Jammu and Kashmir CM Davinder Singh Rana told TOI that the state government would assert to prove that the elected government's writ runs in the state. 'We have already instructed the police to enforce law and order besides making people feel free to spend their life as per their choice,' Rana said. For now, Sunday seems the best day for that.