on to a day of normalcy in Kashmir
Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:43:34 PM, F. Ahmed, IANS
A hustle and bustle follows the so-called 'normal' days in Kashmir
Valley when separatists do not call for any protests and the
authorities do not impose any curfew. That's when everyone
desperately tries to get sundry tasks done.
The man on the street does not argue whether the continuous
shutdowns have produced the desired effect or not.
Niyaz Ahmad, 45, a shopkeeper in the uptown area of Srinagar,
said: "My problem is I must be able to keep my family alive and
for that, I need to work six days a week, so that I earn enough to
keep the wolf away from my door."
For Bashir Ahmad War, 58, who retires next month as a senior
veterinarian, a day of "normalcy" is something to look forward to.
War must visit offices where he has been posted during his
35-year-long career to obtain no demand certificates to settle his
pension case. He also has to visit the secretariat to prepare his
file and push it through before the civil secretariat moves to
winter capital Jammu by the end of this week.
His son Wasim, 16, is already appearing in the Class 10 board
exams with hardly four months of regular schooling this year.
"The question papers have been set in such a manner that any
student who has completed 50 percent of the prescribed syllabus
should be able to attempt all the required questions. But you can
imagine the confidence of a student as he sits in the exam
half-heartedly," War rues.
Ironically, traffic jams in Srinagar have become a sign of
normalcy and a regular feature.
"I was stranded in a traffic jam yesterday for nearly two hours at
the Radio Kashmir crossing and could barely do half the purchasing
I intended to while buying the essentials of life for the family,"
said Muneer Ahmad, 36, a businessman.
The traffic cops have been trying feverishly to keep the main
arteries in the city open for passage of VVIPs like the chief
minister, senior ministers and senior bureaucrats who must reach
their offices in time.
"This results in traffic diversions towards smaller roads that get
choked during the rush hours," said Sheikh Farooq, a TV
Traffic cops argue that almost all the vehicles in Srinagar city
and those from other towns converge on city roads to buy essential
items and do other jobs on 'normal' days.
These normal days, however, have shrunk to barely eight in a month
during the last four months, with the separatists issuing protest
calendars as part of the Quit Kashmir campaign they have been
spearheading in the valley.
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani maintains the protest
programme has mounted pressure on the Indian government and that
international awareness on Kashmir has increased manifold.
But people have other worries.
Parents of youths arrested during stone pelting are worried about
"Tomorrow when my son applies for a government job or a passport,
I would not be able to get a clean chit if police release my son
without withdrawing the case registered against him," said Sajad
Ahmad (name changed).
For those whose children got killed in clashes with the security
forces, days of normalcy hardly mean much.
"For me the world has already ended. I am now spending my days in
prayer and have lost all interest in life," said a father whose
son was killed in security forces firing in south Kashmir's
"My wife does not sleep during the night and keeps on weeping
A local journalist said: "It is a complex issue. Normalcy cannot
be ushered in through some magic wand. The wounds of the local
people have to heal and that is not going to happen just because
the centre has set up interlocutors or because it has been decided
to release the arrested youth.
"It needs a much bigger and bolder decision to reach out to those
who have completely lost faith in the system here. Despite the
highly divergent views of the three regions of the state as to
what should be a permanent solution, life for an average Kashmiri
has become a nightmare."
Shabir Ahmad, a school teacher in central Badgam district here,
said: "I see a dark tunnel, but believe me, I do not see any light
at the end of that dark tunnel."
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