Normal life came to a grinding halt as the strike call given by Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) evoked a total response on Saturday.
The government blockaded mobile internet services but unlike in the past, mobile phone services remained operational.
All shops and other commercial establishments are shut across Kashmir. Roads are wearing a deserted look as no traffic plied. Only government forces vehicles were seen plying in Lal Chowk, Moulana Azad Road and Residency Road besides parts of Old City including Maharaj Gunj, Safa Kadal, Khanyar, Rainawari and Nowhatta.
Reports reaching GNS from various district headquarters suggested that complete shutdown is being observed in Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag. Similar reports poured in from Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts. There was no movement of inter-district transport.
The Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik had called for a complete shutdown and observing January 26 as black day “to register their strong protest against the government of India’s policy of non-resolution of Kashmir issue.
“For the past 71 years, people of J&K are demanding the right to self-determination that the leadership of India promised to them not only in the UN or the parliament but reiterated at Lal Chowk in Srinagar by none other than Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru,” the JRL had said, adding: “However, till this day not only has that commitment not been fulfilled.”
Lakhs of armed forces are deployed to suppress the aspirations of people and draconian laws like AFSPA and PSA are invoked to ensure people’s sentiments do not get out of hand, the JRL said.
“Hundreds of people are lodged and languishing in jails in J&K and outside whose only crime is their demand for restoration of basic human and political rights the fundamental right to decide their destiny,” the statement read. “Every voice raised for it is muzzled through military might. Our youth are targeted and killed whether armed to resist forcible control or unarmed. Our homes are blown up by explosives, our orchards and crops destroyed. Even our toddlers are not spared the bullets and pellets. All means of protest are barred and curbed for us.”