On a call given by Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq against the new land laws notified by the Centre, the Kashmir Valley observed a strike on Saturday

Most shops, petrol pumps and other business establishments were shut and public transport was off the roads across Srinagar and other districts. All shops in the city centre Lal Chowk remained closed. However, the Valley did not witness any protest so far.

Breaking its long silence, the Hurriyat Conference Wednesday called the new Jammu and Kashmir land laws, which allow outsiders to purchase land in the state, “anti-people”.

The amalgam that had maintained silence since the abrogation of Article 370 last year, on Wednesday issued a strong statement accusing the government of following a policy of permanent demographic change and aggressively out to “snatch our land, destroy our identity and turn us into a minority in our own land”.

A joint statement issued by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, Bilal Ghani Lone and Masroor Abbas Ansari said they strongly denounce the “incessant anti-people orders being issued by the government of India at frequent intervals to intimidate and psychologically torture the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.

It was a rarest of rare statement that has come from the amalgam since the abrogation of Article 370. Most of Hurriyat amalgam leaders, including Prof Ghani, Bilal Lone and others were free but like other separatist organizations maintained silence since the abrogation of Article 370 and refrained from issuing regular statements to newspapers which were usual until the abrogation of Article 370.

The Hurriyat leaders had said the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) reiterated its principled stand of engagement and dialogue among stakeholders for resolution of the Kashmir dispute. They said rather than pursuing a peaceful resolution of Jammu and Kashmir, one law after another is being invented and amended by New Delhi and forcibly being thrust upon the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Hurriyat leaders said the new land laws allow the government to declare any local area as a “strategic” area on the “army’s behest”, and called it alarming. “The people of J&K are not some dumb-driven cattle who will yield to these imperial laws,” the Hurriyat said in the statement.

In a gazette notification issued on October 27, the home ministry made several changes to the land laws, including changing Jammu and Kashmir Development Act omitting “permanent resident of the state” clause from Section 17 of the law, thus paving the way for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land in the state.