November 2016 News

Day 137: Kashmir Logjam Continues

22 November 2016
Kashmir Observer

Srinagar: The separatist-sponsored strike disrupted normal life in Kashmir on Tuesday with most of the shops across the Valley shut and transport off the roads. However, some cabs and mini-buses were plying in some areas in the civil lines as well as in the outskirts of the city here, officials said. They said few shops were also open in these areas. The officials said while reports of shutdown were received from most of the district headquarters of the Valley, some inter-district cabs, connecting the summer capital Srinagar with other districts of the Valley, were plying. Few vendors put up their stalls along TRC Chowk-Batamaloo axis through Lal Chowk city centre. However, the movement of people was less today, the officials said. Except for the two days last week, Kashmir has witnessed shutdown for the last 137 days. The separatists, who are spearheading the agitation since killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8, have been issuing weekly protest programmes. They had announced two full days of relaxation on the weekend last week in the agitation programme. However, there is no relaxation on Tuesday. As many as 86 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. It's Raining PAVA in Downtown After a minor stone pelting incident at Tarabal area of Nawakadal in downtown Srinagar, the retreating forces resorted to heavy shelling on Tuesday evening. 'I was coming back on my scooty from Zakura, when stone pelting started. I saw forces charging towards youth,' said Nida (name changed), a student who lives in Nawakadal area. 'I couldn't react for a moment and in the melee left my scooty on the road and took refuge in a nearby house.' As clashes intensified, forces resorted to heavy teargas shelling, smashing everything that came in their way, said Nida. 'They smashed my scooty into pieces. It took me an hour to retrieve it from the road.' Since July 9, pepper and PAVA shells fired by the forces to disperse clashing youth in Nawakadal and its adjoining areas has become a routing. 'The smoke of PAVA and pepper is so strong that it feels like my lungs will collapse anytime,' said Heena, a local resident. 'There is not even a single day when we don't have to bear this hazardous gas.' Controversial PAVA and pepper gas shells were introduced as crowd control measure by the state. 'You cannot imagine how we survive on a daily basis when this smoke fills our homes,' said a local resident who wishes not to be named. 'We have somehow adopted ourselves to pepper and normal teargas smoke, but this PAVA shells is inhumane,' said another resident. 'They want us to suffocate to death.'