The ongoing shutdown in Kashmir is the second-longest in history after the six-month strike in Palestine against the British government.
The continuous strikes in Kashmir following the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani on July 8, 2016 is the second-longest in world history behind only the six-month shutdown in Palestine from April to October 1936.
The six-month strike, a part of the 1936-39 Arab revolt in Palestine, was a nationalist uprising by Palestinian Arabs in Mandatory Palestine against the British colonial rule, as a demand for independence.
The strike was called off after the British administration used a combination of political concessions and international diplomacy involving the rulers of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Trans-Jordan and Yemen to intervene.
LONGEST KASHMIR SHUTDOWN
However, there seem to be no signs of the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government at New Delhi offering any concession to Kashmir, which has already witnessed 90-day massive protest demonstrations and marches that Government of India (GoI) and State government have dealt with excessive force resulting in the killing of 88 civilians at the hands of paramilitary forces, Army and Police and injuries to more than 12,000 persons, hundreds of them blinded, maimed and handicapped.
With the heightened tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad, the calls of the international community led by the United States of urging the two nuclear neighbours of entering into a dialogue process on Kashmir also seem to have fallen flat at the moment.
Meanwhile, the unified separatist leaders led by Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik have been issuing protest calendars every week with no full-day relaxation slated for 97 continuous days up to October 13.
The current shutdown is already the longest ever in Kashmir’s turbulent history and is inching toward 100 days.
Rs 10,000 CRORE LOSSES
Muhammad Yasin Khan, the Chairman of Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), an amalgam of various trade bodies of Kashmir, puts the losses of the ongoing shutdowns at more than Rs 10,000 crore.
“After the 2010 uprising, we calculated the everyday losses and it was estimated to be at Rs 120 crore to Rs 135 crore and by that estimation, Kashmir has suffered losses between Rs 10,800 crore to Rs 12,150 crore,” he said.
However, Kashmiri economist, Nisar Ali told Rising Kashmir that the three-month shutdown has cost Kashmir Rs 6000 crore with the Tourism sector alone suffering Rs 3500 crore losses.
He said the government had also suffered a loss of Rs 1200 crore that it pays to employees in the form of salary in Kashmir valley alone.
“As the output in public services is nil, the salary goes down the drain,” he said.
The only respite that people have had during the shutdown period has been a few hours in the evenings on some days although certain sectors like public transport have not been able to avail even that breather.
Kashmir also witnessed long spells of shutdowns in early 1990s and again during the three summer uprisings of 2008, 2009 and 2010, however, strikes then would not be continuous and people would attend offices and do their businesses during some days of relaxation.
For people to brave odds and survive such a long spell of shutdowns is exemplary as world history has never witnessed such unending shutdown, not even during World War I and II.
LONGEST US GOVT SHUTDOWN
The longest-ever government shutdown in the US history was for 21 days in 1995-1996 from December 15 to January 6 when the Republicans demanded that then US President Bill Clinton propose a budget with the seven-year timetable using Congressional Budget Office numbers, rather than Clinton’s Office of Management and Budget numbers that Clinton refused.
The shutdown was called off when, eventually, Congress and Clinton agreed to pass a compromise budget.
LONG INDIAN AGITATIONS
India too has had its share of long agitations but those agitations did not witness continued shutdowns.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, Kashmiri historian Ashiq Hussain said India witnessed long agitations like the Non-Cooperation Movement, Civil Disobedience Movement and Quit India Movement.
“(Mohandas Karamchand) Gandhi led all three agitations and failed to get anything for India every time,” he said.
The Non-Cooperation Movement continued for two years from January 1920 to April 10, 1922, the Civil Disobedience Movement started on February 11, 1930 and ended after two years while the Quit India Movement started on August 8, 1942 and continued for months, ending after the British arrested one lakh Indians.
FIRST AND SECOND INTIFADA
Palestine also witnessed long agitations in the form of First and Second Intifada but those were not continuous shutdowns, rather spells of agitations spanning over years.
The First Intifada, the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, lasted from December 1987 to the Madrid Conference in 1991.
The Second Intifada or the Al-Aqsa Intifada, was the second Palestinian uprising against Israel that started in September 2000 with the visit of Israel Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon to the Dome of the Rock in the Al Aqsa Masjid compound, which was seen by Palestinians as highly provocative.
The Al-Aqsa Intifada ended after the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit on February 8, 2005 when Palestine President, Mahmoud Abbas and Sharon agreed that all Palestinians would stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere and Israel would cease all its military activity against all Palestinians everywhere.
EUROMAIDAN AND ORANGE REVOLUTION
Ukraine witnessed ‘Euromaidan’, a wave of three-month protests from November 21, 2013 at Maidan Nezalezhnosti or the ‘Independence Square’ in Kiev, demanding closer European integration.
The protests culminated by the end of February 2014 with the ousting of Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych and leading to 2014 Ukrainian revolution.
Though protests were intense and continued for three months, unlike Kashmir, Kiev did not witness a complete shutdown.
Ukraine had also witnessed ‘Orange Revolution’ following protests from late November 2004 to January 2005 after the 2004 Ukrainian presidential elections claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud.
The Ukraine-wide protests succeeded when results of the ‘rigged’ polls were annulled and a revote ordered with the Orange Revolution ending after the declaration of the official winner on January 23, 2005.
(This story has been published first in Rising Kashmir)
2015 Kashmir Despatch