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Curfew strikes in J&K a record, in '08

People are stocking essentials, fearing curfew will return post-Eid.

, ET Bureau|
Sep 19, 2008, 03.10 AM IST
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SRINAGAR: As the Kashmir Coordination Committee has not made any change in its October 6 plan for the sit-in in Lal Chowk, people are busy stocking essentials fearing that curfew and violence will dominate the post-Eid days. Many schools had pre-poned examinations but the government intervened at the last moment to stop the trend.

After four successful marches in a row, separatists asked people to come in large numbers to Lal Chowk for a sit-in on August 25.

Authorities stalled it by imposing severe curfew restrictions that continued till the Muslim month of fasting set in. Now the sit-in is scheduled for October 6 and a commoner���s guess is that the event will again be stalled by imposition of curfew.

People are panicky. They do not see it a day-long curfew but the beginning of a long spell of strikes, curfews and violence. Even the government staff think the incidents in October have chances to drag on especially in wake of central government���s decision to hold polls before the six months rule of the governor ending January 9.

After around two decades, 2008 was witnessing almost a normal year with massive tourist arrivals and economic activity at its peak. But the crisis over Amarnath land row triggered a reversal. A government crumbled down and a highly-polarised state was brought under governor���s rule.

All indications suggest the clocks have turned back in Kashmir, be it politics or economy. Tourism has suffered extensively as the occupancy is almost zero after around half a year of massive rush. The economic blockade impacting routine trading and export of fruit to outside markets is also hampered.

After a steep fall in last few years, strikes have returned to haunt the economy that was barely trying to resume a routine.

Last year, a top official in state police intelligence said, witnessed half the days of strike if compared to 2006 and for this year we were expected quite a few. ���But the situation has taken a reverse turn and we gave already crossed 40 days of strikes���, he said.

Between 1990 and 2007, Kashmir has spent 1,472 days either under curfew or under strikes. If the military operations in specific areas are added then the numbers could easily get doubled. There has been no estimate of the costs of the economic slowdown that these strikes might have triggered.

This time, however, the people are not ready to repeat the 1990s. They are going public with demands that strikes should be skipped and if inevitable people must have a way-out for undoing the losses. Says Sajjad Ghani Lone: ���See, I am not supportive of frequent strikes.

Striking work is essentially a Communist concept where the daily waged worker inflicts economic costs on to the capitalist owners - a situation that does not exist in Kashmir. And then, no liberation struggle has used strikes as a means to achieve the goal���.

That is perhaps why Sunday is a working day-not officially-as shops remain open and most of the private sector offices function. J&K Bank Ltd, state���s only listed company is also open on Sundays. Even schools and colleges have opted to remain open on Sundays to conduct extra classes.
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