SRINAGAR: In the unrest-hit Kashmir as markets and educational institutes remain open on Saturdays and Sundays with public transport plying on roads during relaxation in the strike. The weekend is now-a-days reserved for Mondays and Tuesdays, which are marked by complete shutdown.
Kashmir has been witnessing unrest and shutdown since killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8. During the ongoing unrest in the Valley, all educational institutions including schools and colleges remained closed while public transport was off the roads.
However, in view of the weekend relaxation in shutdown announced by the separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, weekend remain abuzz with activities. The schools are functioning on Saturday and Sunday.
Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik are spearheading the ongoing agitation in the Valley and are issuing weekly protest and shutdown calendars since July 9.
After 133 days of continuous shutdown, the separatist leaders announced weekend relaxation in shutdown on November 19 and 20. They continued with the weekend relaxation in shutdown on December 3 and December 4.
The Valley remains now abuzz with activities on the weekend.
The shops, business establishment and petrol pumps open in the early hours while public transport plies on all roads from the morning. Shoppers throng the markets during the weekend. Besides, massive traffic jams are also witnessed on the two days.
Most of the private educational institutions including the reputed ones are now functioning on Saturday and Sunday from last two weeks. Among the prominent schools, Delhi Public School Srinagar, which remained close till now, has also decided to start classes from Saturday.
Other schools have also announced that they would remain open on weekend in view of relaxation in shutdown. The government schools also remain open on the weekend.
“I am looking forward to going to school tomorrow,” said Zubair Ahmad, a student of DPS Srinagar.
He said it would be after five months that he will be going to school and will get to meet his friends.
Despite cold wave conditions, there is no hesitation among people to send their wards to the schools.
“Since schools are opening only on weekends for last two weeks, I have no hesitation in sending my wards to the schools despite cold wave conditions. Had it been normal days, I would have preferred not to send my wards to the school,” said Abdul Rashid, parent of two school going children.
Private Schools Association of Kashmir (PSAK) has asked the schools to ensure 100 percent attendance of students and teachers during the relaxation period to get the maximum benefit from the limited time.
"Students are going through a hard phase in their academic life and we have decided to help them in every possible way. Our entire staff would work overtime during the relaxation period to guide and help the students," said PSAK chairman G N Var.
The transporters have also heaved a sigh of relief due to weekend break in shutdown.
“For over four months, we were sitting idle at our homes due to shutdown. However, after weekend break in shutdown, we are plying the vehicles and earning the livelihood. It is a sensible decision on part of separatists to announce relaxation in shutdown,” said a driver, Javed Ahmad.
A businessman Tufail Ahmad said people have made adjustments due to continuous shutdown in the Valley.
“We now open our shops and business establishments on Saturday and Sunday and during the evening breaks announced by the separatists. Normally, shops and business establishments used to remain closed on Sunday but since situation in Valley is not normal, open our ventures on Sunday during the break in shutdown by separatists,” he said.
Tufail said till the normalcy is restored, people will have to adjust with the new “temporary” schedule.