Separatist shutdown affects life in Valley
Srinagar: Life in Srinagar and other major towns of the Valley was affected on Wednesday by a shutdown called by separatists as part of the campaign for the return of the mortal remains of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru to his family.
Shops, public transport and other businesses and educational institutions remained closed in Srinagar Tuesday, following a shutdown called by the separatist united coordination committee known as the Muttahida Majlis-e-Mushawarat (MMM).
It must be mentioned that schools had opened in the Valley on Monday after the winter recess of over three months.
Private transport, however, plied on many roads in Srinagar city and other towns of the Valley.
Reports from north Kashmir towns of Sopore and Baramulla indicated the separatist shutdown had completely paralysed normal life there, and markets and roads wore a deserted look.
The response to the shutdown call was less intense in other towns of the Valley.
The movement of traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway, however, remained unaffected despite the shutdown call.
Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel have been deployed in strength in the sensitive areas of Srinagar and other towns, but no restrictions were imposed on pedestrian and vehicular movement Wednesday.
The MMM has been issuing protest notices and schedules on a weekly basis since last month to mount pressure on the government for the return of Afzal Guru's body to his family.
Guru was hanged to death on February 9, and buried in Tihar Central Jail.
Union Home Minister SushilKumar Shinde has said Afzal's body would not be returned to his family. There was ruckus in the state Legislative Assembly on Tuesday over Shinde's statement.
The state government has reiterated that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has already written to the union government seeking the return of Guru's body to his family.
State Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Prasad has told a local news agency that the present spate of protests and shutdowns is sponsored by forces across the borders.
The DGP said the state government was determined to deal with the situation with firmness. He warned that the police hunt against anti-social elements and those instigating youths to stone pelting and violence would continue till complete peace returned to the Valley.
Prasad said an overwhelming majority of peace-loving Kashmiris eagerly look forward to a successful tourist season ahead.