SRI NAGAR: In unrest-hit Kashmir, markets and educational institutes remain open on Saturdays and Sundays with even massive traffic jams witnessed on those two days. Mondays and Tuesdays, which are marked by a complete shutdown, have become the new “weekend”.
In view of the weekend relaxation in shutdown announced by the separatists, weekends are now abuzz with activities. Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik are spearheading the ongoing agitation and have been issuing weekly protest and shutdown calendars since July 9. After 133 days of continuous shutdown, the separatists announced a weekend relaxation first on November 19 and 20. They continued with the relaxation on December 3 and 4.
The shops, business establishment and petrol pumps open in the early hours while public transport plies on all roads from the morning. Shoppers also throng the markets during the weekend.
Most private educational institutions are now functioning on Saturday and Sunday for the past two weeks. “I am looking forward to going to school tomorrow,” said Zubair Ahmad, a student of Delhi Public School, Srinagar. He said it would be five months since he last went to school and added he would get to meet his friends.
Other schools have also announced they would remain open in the weekend in view of relaxation in shutdown. Government schools also remain open on the weekend. Despite cold wave conditions, people have no hesitation in sending their wards to schools. “Had things been normal, I would have preferred not to send my wards to the school,” said Abdul Rashid, a father of two schoolgoing children.
The Private Schools Association of Kashmir has asked the schools to ensure 100 per cent attendance of students and teachers during the relaxation period to get maximum benefit from the limited time. “Our entire staff would work overtime during the relaxation period to guide and help the students,” said its chairman G N Var.
Transporters have also heaved a sigh of relief due to weekend break in shutdown. “For over four months, we were sitting idle in our homes. We are now plying the vehicles and earning our livelihood. It is a sensible decision on the part of separatists,” said driver Javed Ahmad.
Businessman Tufail Ahmad said people have made adjustments due to the continuous shutdown. “We now open our shops on Saturday and Sunday and during the evening breaks announced by the separatists. Shops usually close on Sunday, but the situation here is not normal,” he said.