Barring parts of south, life returns to normal in Kashmir

Srinagar, Nov 18: Life returned to normal on Sunday in Kashmir valley after remaining crippled for a day due to a strike called by separatists on Saturday, when polling for the first of the nine phased panchayat elections was held.
However, normal life remained crippled as shops and business establishments were closed and traffic was off the roads in the twin districts of Shopian and Pulwama against the killing of two militants in an encounter with security forces on Sunday morning in south Kashmir.
Around 74 per cent votes were polled in 47 blocks in the first of the nine phase panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir amid unprecedented security arrangements following a general strike called by separatists and apprehension of militant attempt to disrupt the process on Saturday.
Joint Resistance Alliance (JRL) had called for a general strike on Saturday against the panchayat polls. The separatists had also urged people to boycott the elections.
Shops and business establishments, which remain open on Sundays, are doing normal business and traffic on all routes was plying normally in summer capital, Srinagar, and other major towns and tehsil headquarters in the valley, where train service resumed after remaining suspended for a day due to security reasons.
All the shops, which remain open on Sundays, were open in the main business hubs in civil lines, including historic Lal Chowk, Gonikhan, Residency Road, Maulana Azad Road, Mahraj Bazar, Batamaloo, Iqbal Park, Dalgate, Regal Chowk and Budshah Chowk.
Vendors have put up their stalls in the 3-km-long famous ‘Sunday market’ from Radio Kashmir (RK), Srinagar, crossing to Hari Singh High Streets (HSHS), including historic Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the city. The weekly market attracts thousands of buyers from different parts of the valley.
The situation was no different in the uptown, where shops and business establishments reopened after day-long strike on Saturday. Security force and state police personnel deployed in the Jamia Market to prevent people from entering the worship place have been withdrawn and shops have reopened early this morning in the area.
Reports of normalcy were also received from other parts of the Valley, including Baramulla, Sopore, Bandipora and Pattan in north Kashmir; Anantnag and Kulgam in south Kashmir.
Even though there was no strike called by any separatist groups, shops and business establishment remained closed and traffic was off the road in Pulwama and Shopian after the news of killing of two militants in an encounter spread in the area.
Two militants were killed by security forces in an encounter which ensued during a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) in village Reeban, Zainpora in Shopian on Sunday.