RIYAZ UL KHALIQ
Curfew remains in place in old Srinagar for the third day and a spontaneous shutdown is observed in other parts of the city for the second consecutive day Saturday.
Though the private transport is plying in the civil lines of the city, however, public transport is off the roads and majority of the shops and business establishments in the Lal Chowk area are closed.
The situation in Kashmir saw twists and turns since the ongoing Lok Sabha election set its foot in the region.
Following South Kashmir violence and protests on the eve of LS Polls on April 24, the situation in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency too was not easy.
The day preceding and proceeding April 30, the election day in Srinagar, the situation was tense, uncertain and after the killing of Bashir Ahmad Bhat it was followed by curfew and spontaneous shutdowns which changed it altogether.
It was uncertainty and poll tension on Tuesday just a day before Srinagar was to go for polls. Business was down and traffic too was very thin in latter part of the day.
Kashmir observed complete shutdown while uneasy calm prevailed Srinagar on April 30, but in the evening everything changed when men in uniform killed a youth, Bashir Ahmad Baht, in Old city triggering violent protests followed by strike and curfew. Authorities clamped curfew in the old city on May 1, which continues till date.
The polls in Kashmir saw mass arrests before and after it. DG Police Ashok Prasad claimed that the calm that prevailed during the polling day in Srinagar was due to the detentions unlike South Kashmir which witnessed heavy stone pelting and protests on the same day when people were supposed to use their right to franchise.
Protesting what they called “the highhandedness of troops”, separatist leaders called for a general strike on Thursday in protest against the civilian killing. Authorities imposed strict curfew in Srinagar while rest of the Kashmir observed a strike. Reports of stone pelting and protests came from various areas.
Apparently feeling saddened by the killing of the youth whose sister is scheduled to get married later this month, Kashmir spontaneously remained shut on Friday. Old city was again caged under the blanket of curfew with residents complaining of shortage of domestic needs. There was no strike call from any of the separatist organizations. Protests and stone pelting incidents were reported from other Kashmir parts.
On May 3, disturbance has again hit the roads. Shops and business establishments are closed. Traffic is thin while schools are closed since Wednesday. Kashmir is again shut though Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani had clarified Friday late evening that there will be no strike on Saturday.
In general, since the first leg of Lok Sabha elections in Kashmir, it was ballot, boycott and blood that marked and made headlines in press.
So far, the election tally says, 72 and 74 percent of people stayed away from the election process in South and Central Kashmir, respectively.