Ramadan miracle: Peace in Kashmir (Lead)

September 2nd, 2008 - 10:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Sep 2 (IANS) Markets remained over-crowded with shoppers and roads in this summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir were blocked with heavy traffic as Muslims started the first day of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan Tuesday. Life in the Srinagar city and the rest of the valley was crippled during the last three weeks because of violent protests and the curfew imposed to restore law and order following the bitter agitation over the Amarnath land row and subsequent pro-separatist demonstrations.

But Tuesday life returned to normalcy and people were seen buying dates, which is the choice dry fruit for breaking the fast in the evening for Muslims round the world.

“I am not sure the dates I bought for my family are fresh. The shopkeeper said this was the new supply he had received from outside the valley,” said Zubair Ahmad, 37, a government employee who lives in the uptown Hyderpora area of the city.

As shops opened almost after a fortnight, people thronged them to buy essential supplies for the holy month.

Banks in the valley witnessed heavy rush of customers, most of them withdrawing money to buy food and other essential supplies.

“I had no money as the imposition of curfew had taken me by surprise. I was able to withdraw money from my account after a fortnight,” said Siraj-ud-Din, 48, another government employee.

“I have to buy foodstuffs and medicines for my family. There is no doubt, almost all locals suffered because of the curfew here.”

Even after restoring the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway for supplies, there is an acute shortage of fruits, vegetables, cooking gas and kerosene in the valley.

“I had requested the supplier to deliver a cylinder of cooking gas at my home. I am ready to pay more, but he has been avoiding my requests for many days now,” said Ghulam Muhammad Khan, 65, a retired engineer who lives in the uptown Rawalpora area of the city.

Despite the hardships faced by the locals, the happiest lot were the children for whom going to the schools after a long break was a welcome experience.

“My classmates asked me whether I still remembered their names. We were seeing each other after a long time,” said Dawar, 12, a Class 6 student of a government school in old city area of Srinagar.

Public transport operated after remaining off the roads for over a fortnight.

“It took quite some time in the morning to start my vehicle. I had not moved it on the road for many days,” said Bashir Ahmad, a mini-bus driver of the Soura locality of the city.

Authorities have lifted day curfew from all the 10 districts of the valley.

“No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the valley,” a police officer said.

“It appears the administration finally decided to leave everything to the miracles of Ramadan,” said an editor of a local daily newspaper.

What needs to be keenly watched is whether the miracle works to return a permanent peace to the violence torn valley or not.

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