Ramzan Won’t Buy Peace For Kashmir12 August 2010
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: There will be no let-up in protests during Ramzan in Jammu and Kashmir as separatists have decided to continue their demonstrations and shutdowns even during the Muslim holy month of fasting, which began on Thursday. “We will continue with protests. Muslims have won many battles in this holy month in the past. The next protest calendar will be issued after taking a stock of the ground situation,” said hardline separatist Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The Hurriyat has been issuing a protest calendar every Saturday for the past two months. The National Conference government headed by Omar Abdullah was hoping for relative calm during Ramzan, when residents of the Kashmir Valley spend much of their time praying and observing dawn and dusk rites. But the Hurriyat is determined not to let popular rage get dissipated. “Our struggle is passing through a decisive phase, in which every house has become our office and every individual our worker and colleague,” said senior Hurriyat leader Masrat Alam, who is emerging as the new face of anger on the streets. The latest wave of protests began on June 11 when a 17-year-old student died after being hit by a teargas shell fired by the police during a demonstration in Srinagar. More than 50 youths have died in clashes with security forces in the two months since then. Syed Salahuddin, who heads the United Jehad Council, a coalition of separatist outfits based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, also called upon the people of the state to take to the streets during Ramzan. Chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has threatened to challenge security restrictions to offer prayers on Friday. He has not been allowed to offer Friday prayers at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid for the past six weeks. “I call upon all to march towards Jamia Masjid to perform prayers, defying all restrictions,” the Mirwaiz said in a statement. Hardliners led by Geelani have also called for a shutdown on Friday.