The Pioneer Edit Desk
November 09, 2010
Although it is too early to say that the residents of the Kashmir Valley have finally revolted against the frequent disruptions engineered by separatists, especially those led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, there is some cause to cheer that the recent call by the hardline faction of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference to observe a ‘civil curfew’ while US President Barack Obama was in the country has been snubbed by the people. Markets, business establishments, schools and colleges functioned in open defiance of the call. Since this is not the first time that the people have ignored the separatists’ appeal for a shutdown — recently shopkeepers chased away a group of supporters trying to enforce a shutdown — it would not be incorrect to suggest that the futility of strikes is beginning to dawn on the masses since this adversely affects them the most. Faced with opposition, the hardliners had hastened to modify their ‘appeal’ and Geelani said normal life should not be disrupted. That does not mean he has abandoned his disruptive agenda. The infamous ‘strike calendar’ remains very much in place and is invoked from time to time to derail normal activity. From the separatists’ point of view, it is necessary to maintain the disruption because it keeps people in an agitated frame of mind and, therefore, susceptible to the smallest of provocations.
The people of Kashmir Valley, like Indians anywhere else in the country, just want to get on with their lives. They want schools and colleges to function in the interest of their children. They want to earn a living through jobs and small businesses. They now seem to have come round to the view that enough is enough and little will be achieved by toeing the separatists’ line of disrupting everyday life. It is too early to claim that the separatists have been put on the back-foot or that they stand isolated. The defiance we are witnessing may yet prove to be the proverbial exception than the rule. But if the State Government plays its cards well and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, along with other leaders and workers of the National Conference, makes a genuine effort to reach out to the masses and heal the wounds of the past few months, then the tide could turn. It has happened in other States; there is no reason why it can’t happen in Jammu & Kashmir.
Source: The Pioneer