Srinagar: A complete shutdown was observed across the Valley on Saturday in protest against the recent burning of a flag with Islamic inscriptions by Hindutva activists in Rajouri.
The Kashmir Bandh call, asking people to observe a shutdown in solidarity with Muslims of Jammu, had been issued by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its affiliated associations (KCCI), Federation of Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA). Pro-freedom groups, including the Hurriyat and JKLF had supported the call.
Schools remained shut, there was thin attendance in courts and offices even as transport remained off the roads in response to the strike call. In fact, the Joint Committee of Private Schools (JCPS) had asked its member schools to keep schools closed, and transporters too joined the strike.
North and south Kashmir too observed a shutdown as people remained indoors and roads wore a deserted look throughout the day. However, the shutdown was peaceful and no untoward incident was reported.
JKLF chairman Yasin Malik had called the flag burning a “RSS conspiracy backed by pro-unionist parties including PDP, NC, Congress and communists” while accusing them of creating a “1947-like situation throughout Jammu, Rajouri, Poonch, Doda, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah and Ramban areas”.
While the High Court Bar association had asked all its members to not work for the day, Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq asked people to observe the shutdown call saying, “The strike call regarding state terror in Rajouri is legitimate and people would observe a strike and express solidarity with the people of Rajouri.”
A few days ago, Hindutva groups the VHP and Bajrang Dal had torched a flag with the Islamic Kalima inscribed on it in Rajouri town leading to protests by the local Muslim community. The authorities clamped a curfew and arrested several Muslim youths who were later released. However, no one involved in the sacrilegious act was arrested.