A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah told the Rajya Sabha that normalcy had returned to Kashmir, shopkeepers across the Valley downed their shutters Thursday. While there was little public transport on the roads, private vehicles were operating normally.
Shops and businesses across Kashmir had been shut for over 100 days to protest against the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories on August 5.
Recently, business establishments and shops in parts of the Valley had started to remain open for the entire day. This was despite posters threatening shopkeepers against opening their establishments being seen sporadically in parts of the Valley.
The opening of shops was a hint that the Valley was slowly returning towards normalcy.
On Wednesday, Shah informed the Upper House of Parliament that “total normalcy prevails in Kashmir, with government office and educational institutions functioning fully”.
The statement seemingly did not go down well with people in the Valley, especially traders.
“Yesterday, we saw shops opening for the whole day... Today, they shut it on their own... There was no call for shutdown from any side,” said Sheikh Ashiq, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI). “We feel that the shutdown was reaction to what the Home minister said in Parliament yesterday.”
“His (Shah’s) statement was not just misleading but also aimed at portraying as if people in Valley are happy with the situation here,” said Yasir Ahmad, a shopkeeper at Srinagar’s Lalchowk.
Traders say this new phase of the shutdown could last longer.
Meanwhile, at least two shops were gutted on Wednesday night in the old city area of Srinagar. Police have not issued a statement on the incident.