Halt Hartal!

News Kashmir Exclusive


The debate with full vigor is on in Kashmir Polity especially among pro-freedom circles on efficacy of Hartals as many believe that Hartal as a strategy has outlived its significance as a resistance tool . While striking the chords in this regard ,  People’s Political Party Chairman, Engineer Hilal Ahmed War, has appealed the resistance leadership to refrain from giving frequent strike calls as it amounts to “violation of human rights. Speaking at a human rights seminar organized by APHC, War said that regular strikes have crippled the economy of the Kashmiris, which can prove gravely detrimental to the movement in the long run.

Hartal in our region as its own history .Hartal (pronounced [həɽt̪aːl]) is a term in many South Asian languages for strike action, first used during the Indian Independence Movement. It is mass protest often involving a total shutdown of workplaces, offices, shops, courts of law as a form of civil disobedience. In addition to being a general strike, it involves the voluntary closing of schools and places of business. It is a mode of appealing to the sympathies of a government to change an unpopular or unacceptable decision. A Hartal is often used for political reasons, for example by an opposition political party protesting against a government policy or action.


Over the past 27 years of violent conflict of Kashmir this word Hartal has echoed almost billions of times in the hearts and minds of Kashmir to register their protest and anger against killings , unaddressed political aspirations and atrocities with about two thousand strikes observed in past 25 years in Kashmir.

While talking to The News Kashmir, Engineer Hilal War states – “We definitely need to revisit the strategy of Hartals. I have impressed upon the leadership to formulate a concrete strategy as an alternative to strikes which have yielded nothing except pushing people further away from the movement.We need to bear in mind that When people are deprived of their basic needs, while the leadership has an affluent lifestyle, it doesn’t do any good to the movement. It is a serious issue and should be addressed at the earliest. “



On the otherhand it is not just the single statement of Engineer Hilal War that profreedom leaders are beginning to feel the inadequacy of hartals as on ground  since considerable  time the Hartal as a strategy employed by profreedom polity is failing to garner impressive response. The representatives of Hurriyat Conference, an amalgam of different separatist parties in Kashmir recently decided to brainstorm at Mirwaiz Manzil in Srinagar to think of “alternate means” of protest.  Feedback from online platforms like twitter is being asked from youth to suggest alternative to hartals.

Manzoor Ahmad, a commoner states – “ The rampant strike calls have more often than not hurt the poor people of Kashmir and now from every political sense it looks that Hartal as a strategy employed by resistance leadership should be provided with alternative .After observing thousands of Hartals in Past 26 years there is feeling of tiredness about this method. Hartals now seem clearly losing their relevance.”

With the sentiment brewing that Political leaders in Kashmir have been highly abusing tactic of shutdowns and strikes undoubtedly the dire need to going  beyond Hartal politics is being felt not just by people but by pro-freedom polity.