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Summer Holidays In Kashmir As Protest Hovers Ahead

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India announces unscheduled holiday as Hizbul Mujahideen group's chief releases calendar to mark Burhan Wani's death

India announced an unscheduled 10-day summer vacation in the disputed region on Thursday, days after Hizbul Mujahideen group's chief released his protest calendar.

Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, earlier this week, called for demonstrations against the Indian rule from July 8 to July 13.

During the five days, pro-independence supporters will mark the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani who was killed in gunbattle with Indian forces last July.

Wani’s killing had sparked massive protests in Kashmir that lasted five months, with Indian forces killing over 90 civilian protesters and wounding over 15,000 people.

The summer vacations clash with days of the protest.

With the schools and colleges, over the past six months, simmering with political tensions and thousands of students participating in pro-independence demonstrations, summer vacation by the government is seen as an attempt to thwart student protests.

A government order on Thursday evening said all educational institutions up to the higher secondary level in Kashmir “shall observe summer vacation from July 6 to July 16”. The vacations were then extended to the Kashmir University as well.

The government’s decision of declaring a summer vacation ahead of its time has been criticized by the opposition since the weather is cooler than the previous summers.

The meteorological department in Kashmir, in fact, confirmed that this summer the valley had witnessed excessive rainfall and lesser temperatures, when compared to the previous years.

“The government seems to have given into Syed Salahuddin’s protest calendar,” said Engineer Rasheed, an independent Kashmiri lawmaker.

On Friday authorities imposed restrictions on movement of people in several areas of capital Srinagar after resistance leadership had called for protests against the U.S. State Department for declaring Salahuddin a global 'terrorist'.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

The two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- since they were partitioned in 1947, two over Kashmir. Kashmiri resistance groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.

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