No refuge from protest calendars

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Hurriyat has issued a fresh weekly protest calendar and it is a replication of the previous one: a break over the weekend and  hartal on the remaining days.

 

 In fact, it was only in November  that the Hurriyat chose to lift hartal over  the weekend.  On November 19, the Valley had its first full working day after a record 133 days of shutdown.  

 

Calendar is issued every Wednesday or Thursday for the following week. It has directions for each day: a call for a hartal,  a protest march to a place, or a symbolic protest activity, say writing graffiti on the walls. 

 

The latest  calendar which begins from Friday is as follows: Friday, complete shutdown; Saturday, full working day; Sunday full working day; Monday, hartal; Tuesday, hartal; Wednesday, hartal up to 4 pm; Thursday, hartal up to 4 pm. There are general directions too: "Protests be held across Jammu and Kashmir". 

 

And that there should be "lockdown all the routes entering your mohallas, villages and localities by every means during night to protect people in general and youth in particular from the raids and arrests by Indian forces and J&K Police".

 

People are also exhorted to "play Islamic and Azadi Taranas (songs) from Maghrib (Evening prayers)  to Isha (Night prayers) on all days". 

 

 People are also asked to paste a poster of the protest roster  "on the entrance of every mosque and in market places, mohallas and local chowks".

 

 

Calendar, as this protest roster is called,  has become a Hurriyat innovation dating back to summer upsurge of 2010 when  Hurriyat patriarch Syed Ali Shah Geelani issued shutdown calls for five months with a break or two in a fortnight. While this achieved zero tangible outcome, the long period of shutdown brought Kashmir to the brink of an economic collapse. It took Kashmir a long time to recover. In fact, many in Kashmir credit the subsequent five years of normalcy to the economically draining hartal of 2010.

 

But this hardly stopped Hurriyat from going the same way in 2016. Within few days of the killing of popular Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8, which plunged Kashmir into turmoil, Hurriyat embarked on an uninterrupted formal hartal program with elaborate protest instructions.  

 

Kashmir is now in the 5th month of the  strife, which has taken a heavy toll on the life in Kashmir but Hurriyat continues to issue weekly shutdown calls, now relieved by a working day or two. And people are urged to strictly follow them in the hope of Azadi. This strategy has been dragged on to a point where there is now no connection between the protest and the desired political outcome. 

 

 

But this isn't something that the pro-freedom camp  seem to appreciate.  They continue to claim the uncritical backing of the people, even from  the daily earning sections of the people who have suffered most by the hartals.  What is more, Hurriyat have also claimed progress towards their goal. Meanwhile, Kashmir continues to be in a limbo with common man haplessly  caught between this unremitting ideological divide. 

 

 

 

 

 

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