Suspected militants and their over ground activists have reportedly stepped up their activities across Kashmir to gain sway over the persisting umbrage among the Valley’s population against the Centre’s abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories.
Over the past week, gunmen have repeatedly appeared in various Valley areas to issue diktats to traders on when to open or close their establishments. Vendors and other sections of the trading community are being “guided” on the choice of their work schedule. Many youth owing allegiances to the “freedom” cause have become active. In most cases, the diktats are being religiously followed by the traders and others.
However, groups of youth have at places attacked shops for being kept open beyond the “permissible” hours. Running cars and other vehicles too have been targeted by them. In one such incident, an electronics store in southern Shopian town owned by one Sajad Ahmed Chirag was torched by a group of youth yesterday.
In nearby Kaccha Dora, two trucks which arrived in the village to transport apples out were also attacked. Earlier, several shops were damaged in Beeru area of central Budgam. In Srinagar, dozens of private cars were damaged, and a car was set ablaze in northwestern Baramulla district in the beginning of the week.
The Kashmir Valley was shut due to a spontaneous strike by traders and transporters since August 5 when Parliament passed a resolution abrogating the special status of J&K under Article 370, and a bill to split the state into two UTs. However, the authorities were able to “encourage” vendors to resume work in some parts of uptown Srinagar, including Residency Road. The movement of private cars has also increased lately.
Also, for the past couple of weeks, shops and other establishments in several Valley areas, including Srinagar, opened for three to four hours from 6 am “to enable people to buy eatables and other essential commodities”. This came after posters by an obscure group appeared in the Valley, approving of this.
While these areas see the usual bustle in mornings, traders of Srinagar’s commercial hub Lal Chowk and its neighborhood were on Wednesday asked by “unknown youth” to suspend their work completely till further instructions as a “punishment” for some of them having kept their establishments open beyond the “permissible” hours earlier in the week. In nearby Sarai Bala area, some of the traders were on Thursday confronted by irate youth for keeping their businesses open beyond permitted period.