Geelani downscales protest calendar, asks people for advice

November 10th, 2010 - 3:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Nov 10 (IANS) After an unrelenting five-month protest campaign of shutdowns and demonstrations, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani Wednesday sought suggestions from people in the Kashmir valley on the next course of action.

Geelani, the leader of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference, has also withdrawn the shutdown call for Nov 13 and 15 given earlier. This is being considered a remarkable departure from the earlier protest calendar that brought life to a grinding halt in the Valley and saw 110 people losing their lives in clashes with security forces.

Withdrawing his shutdown calls, Geelani asked people for suggestions and said they would be seriously deliberated upon.

“We are forced to give shutdown calls to highlight our plight at the hands of the Indian troopers who are leaving no stone unturned to suppress our ongoing movement,” Geelani said in a statement here Wednesday.

Although the octogenarian leader said he called off the strike proposed for Nov 13 because of the Urs of Syed Ali Hamdani, known popularly as Shah-e-Hamdan in Kashmir, the lukewarm public response is believed to be the main reason for the climbdown.

“He has seen the writing on the wall and has now decided to gradually taper off his protest campaign. It is not possible for any society to remain shut for five months and he has realised it a bit too late,” said a senior ruling National Conference leader here.

However, the common person believes that this is no guarantee of normalcy returning to the state.

“You can never predict what happens in Kashmir tomorrow. It is a place where anything can happen,” said Zahoor Ahmad, a local taxi driver here.

Kashmir watchers also believe one can predict the behaviour of the people in Kashmir only to one’s own detriment.

“It can be anything that might trigger another spell of violence tomorrow. Unless the basic political issue is resolved, it can be potatoes today and pork tomorrow against which the people might rise,” said Bashir Manzar, editor of a local newspaper here.

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