Now protesters in Kashmir face stones

Shopkeepers are up in arms against protesters in Kashmir.

Srinagar: Fed up with repeated strikes by
separatists in Kashmir Valley, shopkeepers are up in arms
against protesters, who are tasting their own bitter pill as
locals are attacking them with stones.

Clerics have also started making fervent appeals from
mosques to open shops and restore normalcy in violence
affected areas.

An incident of clash was recently reported from Peerbagh
in Budgham district of Central Kashmir - the scene of violent
protests during the last few weeks.

As separatists and their goons reached the area to
enforce the strike, they were greeted with stones. Local
shopowners showered stones on these rowdy elements who tried
to force them to close down their establishments.

The police could not do anything to quell the locals and
shopkeepers as securitymen were outnumbered.

These shopkeepers and locals reached the police station
later and filed an FIR against 10 people of neighbouring Nabir
Gund village holding them responsible for spoiling peace
and threatening the locals.

Far away in Anantnag in South Kashmir, an appeal for
opening of shops was made as people were facing lot of
hardships on account of frequent strikes during the Holy
month of Ramzan.

The separatists` strike calls have hit the economy and at
many a places people have been seen selling off their
belongings at distress rates.

The business of shopkeepers has suffered a lot as the
turmoil not only brought tourism to an abrupt halt but also
forced establishments to remain closed for nearly two months

In Ompura area in Central Kashmir, there have been
instances of exchange of hot words between locals and
anti-social elements when businessmen were forced to shut down
their shops.

In Meehama Pulwama in South Kashmir, four men were beaten
up by locals three days back when they were trying to enforce
a strike in the area.

Senior police officials said people were voicing their
concern and police was only intervening to prevent situation
from turning worse.

These issues are not limited to villages only. In
Natipora area of the city, anti-social elements ransacked a
bakery shop. The owner`s only fault was to supply fresh
traditional Kashmiri bread in his area. The incident triggered
resentment among the public against the separatist agenda.

"It is heartening that people have started coming out to
register their protest against the separatists though such
protests are scattered," said a senior police official.