SRINAGAR: In a major relief for Kashmiri Pandits living in Valley, the separatists on Monday called off the strike call given by them on Hindu festival of Maha Shivratri.
The hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, moderate Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik in a joint statement today said they have called off the strike on Friday (February 24), which coincided with Maha Shivratri.
On February 24, Kashmiri Pandits will be observing Maha Shivratri festival (locally known as Herat). The Kashmiri Pandits will be holding special prayers in the temples.
The Pandits distribute wet walnuts on the festival. They put walnuts put in earthen pots filled with water before the festival and then distribute. They distribute it among the Muslims also.
“We have exemplary tradition of mutual brotherhood in the State and since ages we are living in harmony,” the separatist leaders said while calling off the strike.
They said while issuing the protest programme, they did not notice that Maha Shivratri is being observed on February 24.
“After our strike call, the members of Kashmiri Pandit community sought our attention towards and after consultations, we have called off proposed strike on Friday,” the leaders said.
The Pandits had appealed the separatist leaders to call of the strike on Maha Shivrati.
The three separatist leaders had spearhead the over five month long unrest in the Valley last year after killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir’s Kokernag area on July 8 last .
The trio have been issuing “protest calendars and shutdowns” since July 8. On their call, the Kashmir observed continuous shutdown for over four months. The separatists had not relaxed shutdown on E-id-ul-Azha, the Muslim holy festival last year.
Meanwhile, J&K government spokesman and Minister for Public Works, Naeem Akhtar, today visited Pandit Colony in Sheikhpora in central Kashmir’s Budgam district to review facilities there ahead of Maha Shivratri festival.
During the visit, the minister reviewed status of under-construction additional blocks of the residential colony there.
He was informed that 200 Pandit families are already residing in the colony since 2008.
96 new flats are under construction at a cost of Rs 30 crore in Pandit colony at Sheikhpora.