December 2016 News

Kashmir Valley On Threshold Of 'complete' Normalcy

15 December 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ehsan Fazili

Srinagar: While separatists have issued a relaxed protest calendar for the next fortnight with five days of normal life activities every week, the Kashmir valley is on the threshold of complete normalcy after six months of unrest, the longest period of protest shutdown. The weekly protest calendar in the recent weeks was losing its power as more and more people started attending to normal life activities leading to increased number of pedestrians and private vehicles on the roads. With the market places shut, flea markets and roadside vending became a common feature in Srinagar and other major towns of the Valley. However, the major brunt of the protest shutdown, with fewer relaxation periods, was borne by the business community, transporters, tourism operators and the most crucial education sector. The separatist leaders, Syed Ali Gelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, jointly spearheading the protest schedules, have gradually moved on to this longest period of five days of relaxation a week. Earlier, there was a relaxation of 14 hours, beginning at 4 pm, for a single or a couple of days every week. This was followed by two weeks with two days of full-day relaxation each and last week it was extended to three days in view of the Eid-e-Milad celebrations on Monday (December 12). Even as there was a relaxation period of 16 hours from 4 pm this afternoon as per the protest calendar, Srinagar and other parts of the Kashmir valley had been abuzz with normal life activities since morning today. The shops and business establishments opened this afternoon, while vehicular traffic was plying normally throughout the Valley. There was a heavy rush of vehicles in the capital city today leading to traffic congestions at various places, mainly in the commercial hub of Lal Chowk, where the roads and footpaths have virtually turned into daily flea markets. The brunt of the current unrest that began following the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir on July 8 was borne by the traders, including those associated with tourism, and the education sector. The turmoil has claimed the lives of at least 89 persons, including two policemen, while over 12,000 others, including civilians and security personnel, have been injured in clashes between protesters and forces. Traders seek insurance cover for losses : Srinagar: The Kashmir Economic Forum (KEF) on Thursday urged the government to convince the insurance companies to cover business losses suffered due to curfew and shutdowns. 'Businessmen are suffering due to the instability in the Valley which is purely of political nature. The government should convince the insurance companies to cover the business loss of the traders here who suffer for no fault of theirs,' KEF chairman Showkat Chowdhary said in a statement.