Geelani-Omar Face-off Continues, Kashmir Shutdown For Today6 September 2011
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: As the war of words over protest politics between J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah and hardline faction's chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani continues, the Kashmir valley on Tuesday observed a shutdown against 'continuous detention of protesters and pro-Hurriyat leaders'. After remaining by and large peaceful and shutdown-free this summer, the Valley witnessed thin traffic on roads, even as banks, offices, schools and colleges closed down in the wake of 82-year-old Geelani's call for shutdown. The Hurriyat claims the government continues to harass youth who protest against human rights abuses. Geelani demands release of all youth arrested and separatist leaders held since the 2010 summer unrest. CM Abdullah, however, blamed Geelani for disturbing peace with his provocative speeches. 'Whatever the situation, the academic loss cannot be compensated. The repercussions of the last year’s unrest is irreparable loss,” said Abdullah during a Teacher's Day function in Srinagar on Monday. Seeking declaration of education and health sectors as conflict neutral, the chief minister said, “We can neither cure patients of the last year nor can we teach the lessons of previous year to the students this time...I request separatists to keep the education away from the conflict. We cannot bring teachers, medicos and engineers from outside even if boundaries are changed,' he added. Valley's top school, Burnhall, which is the chief minister's alma mater, on Tuesday decided to pay heed to Abdullah's call and kept the school open for students; though thin attendance was recorded. Another missionary school also functioned normally. However, many government teachers could not reach far flung areas due to absence of public transport. However, private schools in Srinagar were closed for the day. The hardline Hurriyat on Tuesday made a contrast claim to the chief minister's claim that protesters were released. 'Rearrest process of pro-freedom leaders and workers after their release from jails, despite court orders, continues. Leaders like Yousuf Falahi and Abdul Gani Bhat were rearrested immediately after they got released from Kot-Balwal jail Jammu,' claimed Hurriyat spokesman in a statement. Claiming a successful shutdown, the Hurriyat spokesman thanked people for observing complete a shutdown on Tuesday and 'expects that Wednesday will also see a complete strike observed so that a state of civil curfew is created,' said the Hurriyat spokesman. The Hurriyat call had the state administration fanning out security forces in strength on the roads to stop any street protests. All sensitive areas were manned by security forces in riot gear and armoured vehicles plied in downtown Srinagar areas to keep protesters at bay. The day passed off peacefully without any major incident of violence or street protests.