No curfew in Srinagar but Geelani urges ‘civil curfew’

Sunday, November 7, 2010

SRINAGAR - No curfew was imposed in Srinagar Sunday as violence and protests continued to decline in the Kashmir Valley even though hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani called for a ‘civil curfew’ during US President Barack Obama’s India visit.

To attract the attention of the visiting president, Geelani had asked people to observe a complete shutdown that should resemble “a civil curfew” for three days beginning Saturday.

“No curfew has been imposed anywhere in Srinagar city and all other towns of the Valley today (Sunday) except restrictions in north Kashmir Sopore town,” a senior police officer said here.

Markets and other businesses remained closed in Srinagar because of a public holiday and the Sunday market, where hundreds of pavement sellers usually display their goods, saw very few of them owing to the shutdown called by the separatists.

For over four months now, Geelani’s breakaway Hurriyat group has been spearheading the ‘Quit Kashmir’ campaign across the Valley where protest calendars are issued by the group on a weekly basis.

“It is clear that the people have gradually started ignoring the separatist calendar and life is returning to normal here,” an intelligence officer said.

“In light of the overall improvement in the law and order situation, the authorities have also been avoiding imposition of curfew and restrictions that had become unavoidable in the months of June, July and August due to violence incited by the separatists,” he added.

“Statistics prove that the number of stone-pelting incidents, protests and shutdowns have been on the decline since last month as educational institutions, government offices and private transport have started functioning normally here,” the officer said.

“Despite the official claims of the situation in the Valley normalising, things are still far from normal as all the main markets and public transport have remained closed for most of the days since June here,” said Naseer Ahmad, a Srinagar resident.

On his part, Geelani has been issuing statements thanking people for the unflinching support his protest calendars have been receiving for over four months now.

“Our struggle is a long drawn one and to expect that we would achieve our cherished goal of freedom within a few months is expecting too much.

“But the fact remains that Kashmir would never be truly normal unless the political aspirations of the people are addressed here,” said an activist of Geelani’s group.

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