Hurriyat shutdown total in Kashmir
Separatists returned to the political scene after a 15-month hibernation, their first call after last year’s scrapping of special status under Article 370 shutting the Valley on Saturday.
The shutdown was called in protest against the land laws notified by the Centre on Wednesday allowing outsiders to purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir.
Shops, businesses and offices remained closed in large parts of the Valley in response to the call by the moderate Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, against Delhi’s policy of making “permanent demographic changes” in Jammu and Kashmir.
Security forces were deployed in strength in many parts of the Valley to prevent protests and there were no stone-throwing incidents.
Separatist sources said some protest calls were issued by their leadership during the last 15 months but almost none from their Valley-based top leadership. “The calls would come from the leadership based in Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir). Some lower rung leaders in the Valley also issued a couple of calls but they went unnoticed,” a separatist leader told The Telegraph.
“This is the first time you had the top leadership of moderate Hurriyat, including Mirwaiz, Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone and Masroor Abbas, issuing a call for shutdown, which was effective and gave us hope for revival of our normal political activities.”
Kashmir has remained shut for most of the 15 months, initially due to the government clampdown and voluntary shutdowns against scrapping of special status and then because of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
But all these months, separatists had literally disappeared from the scene as many leaders were jailed, put under house arrest or had no courage to speak up. The top rung leadership still remain in jail or under house arrest.