The strike call by separatists against the landing of Army in Kashmir this day in 1947 to repulse the invasion by Pakistan-backed tribal militia, crippled life in the Valley on Saturday.
Shops and other commercial establishments, schools and colleges remained closed across the Kashmir valley including commercial hub of Lal Chowk in Srinagar while attendance of employees in government offices was reported to be very thin. Though public transport was off the roads, private cars, auto rickshaws and cabs plied normally.
Authorities suspended train services across Kashmir as a “precautionary measure” in view of the shutdown call. Authorities had deployed large contingents of police and para-military CRPF to prevent any demonstration.
Reports said hundreds of policemen donning riot gear were deployed in the sensitive areas in Srinagar and other towns to thwart any possible protest. In old city areas, the security personnel patrolled the lanes and by-lanes.
Similar reports of the shutdown were received from all district headquarters in northern and southern Kashmir. Reports said at least 11 youth sustained pellet injuries in clashes with security forces in Ghat, Khudwani area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district where a cordon-and-search-operation was underway. A police official said that three militants were believed to be hiding in the area.
It was the tenth strike called by separatists in last one month. According to Shakeel Qalandar, a noted industrialist, in the past 30 years, Kashmir has suffered losses up to Rs 2,20,000 crore due to business interruptions caused by strikes and curfews.
Qalander said the situation in Kashmir has now reached to a point where “our entrepreneurs have started migrating to other parts of the world.”
It was on this day in 1947 that independent India's army undertook its first military operation in Jammu and Kashmir, a day after the then Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession with the union of India, to repulse Pakistan’s tribal raiders from the region.
Separatists have been calling for a strike on this day, every year since the eruption of militancy in the state in 1989.