For the first time in 133 days, Kashmir Valley is going to have two full working days this weekend, after the unified Hurriyat relaxed the protest on Wednesday.
According to the new calendar, issued on behalf of the Hurriyat by veteran separatist Syed Ali Geelani, there will be a full day relaxation in shutdown on Saturday and Sunday, the first such relief for people, especially traders, in the restive Valley
With the Valley reeling under strikes and curfew over the last five months, the Hurriyat calendar literally determines the nature of life here these days with elaborate details given on the timing of shutdown and relaxation, as well as calls for organising conventions, marches and peaceful protests.
Kashmir is undergoing its longest shutdown, which completed 131 days on Wednesday. The Hurriyat leader Geelani, moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation, initially used to call for protests and strikes, for five days in a week.
However, with New Delhi watching the turmoil in Kashmir with apathy, and thousands of protesters behind bars — many of them have been slapped with the draconian Public Safety Act — a sense of weariness has taken over the embattled population, and an uneasy calm prevails on the roads and streets.
"People of Kashmir have won a moral victory by refusing to yield and submit to oppression," a statement issued by united factions of separatist groups said on Wednesday.
"We have made it clear to India that come what may we will be the masters of our destiny. A hundred and thirty days of continuous protest with wholehearted support and participation of people and offering tremendous sacrifices has no parallel in the current world," adds the statement.
On Wednesday, normal life was affected again due to the separatist-sponsored shutdown, but vehicles on roads, especially in the summer capital of Srinagar, is slowly and gradually increasing. The rush has only grown after the state government went ahead with its decision of holding Class 10 and Class 12 board exams.
The exams have shot up the footfall of pedestrians on the streets of Srinagar and across towns and villages in the Valley.
Incidents of stone pelting too have started coming down in the last week of September, after the J&K police carried out night raids throughout the Valley and arrested thousands of people, including many of the Hurriyat activists.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's comments on Tuesday that stone-pelting on security forces has come down to zero thanks to demonetisation, has invited criticism and didn't go down well with many.
Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah ridiculed the comments. "Thank goodness for the sensible and correct voices from the ground which are rejecting such comments by the Defence Minister."
"The people of Kashmir have shown to the world that they have a deep thirst for freedom for which they are prepared to stake their lives, their livelihood, their education, their everything," the Hurriyat trio said in the statement.
Kashmir has been shut since 9 July, a day after security forces killed Burhan Wani, a local militant commander in south Kashmir, triggering clashes between security forces and protesters.
At least 94 people have been killed and thousands have been injured.