SRINAGAR: After 133 days of unrest and shutdown, Kashmir was abuzz with activities and normal life resumed on Saturday in view of two-full day relaxations in strike announced by separatists for today and tomorrow.
The shops, business establishments, petrol pumps opened early this morning for a full day for the first time since the unrest began in the Valley on July 9, a day after killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir’s Kokernag area.
The public transport, which was missing from roads for last 133 days, was back on the roads today. Heavy vehicular movement was witnessed in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley. The cabs, three wheelers, two wheelers and private vehicles were plying on the roads.
There were frequent traffic jams in the Valley today. The traffic police personnel had tough time in regulating the traffic after 133 days of shutdown.
Mehraj-ud-Din, a bus driver, said, “Today’s relaxation in shutdown gave a major relief to transporters, who have borne the maximum brunt of the over four-month-long shutdown in the Valley”.
“We have suffered heavy losses. I left my home early this morning to earn my bread and butter,” he said.
Due to plying of public transport, the attendance in government, semi-government offices, banks and post offices was almost full for the first time since the outbreak of unrest on July 9.
People also thronged the markets to purchase woolen items as winter has set in.
The shops and outlets selling warm clothes, blankets, heating appliances and essential commodities witnessed huge rush of shoppers.
Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) chairman, Mohammad Yaseen Khan, said despite opening of shops and markets for a full day after 133 days of shutdown, the sales were not as good as expected.
He said it was due to curfews and shutdown in past four months and the demonetization of Rs 500 and 1000 currency notes.
Many schools also opened today after remaining closed for over four months due to continuous shutdown.
“I am very excited as I am going school after over four months. I will be meeting my friends after a long time. I am very happy and hope that schools will remain open now,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a student of a private school in Srinagar.
Meanwhile, the students appearing in ongoing 10th and 12th class annual exams used public transport for the first time to reach the examination centres. The 10th and 12th class exams commenced from Monday amidst tight security measures and separatists-sponsored shutdown.
Senior separatist leaders, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation in the Valley, had for the first time announced a two-day relaxation in the shutdown beginning today.
The separatist leaders have been issuing weekly protest and shutdown calendar after Burhan’s killing.
At least 94 people have been killed, more than 13000 injured and over 8000 arrested by police during last 133 days of unrest in the Valley.