Last week, on the Monday before Eid, Mohammad Shafi Wani opened his grocery store in Srinagar's Karan Nagar neighbourhood. Each of his gestures —rolling up the shutter, dusting off the shelves, opening the long-locked cash till — was an act of defiance, perhaps even suicidal rashness.
Kashmir's Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, the anti-India Islamist coalition spearheading the protests that have claimed more than 80 lives in clashes with police this year, had decreed that shops would remain shut until 2:00 pm; Wani had opened for business at mid-day. “Get lost,” a local resident recalls Wani saying to two young men who showed up to warn him, “I'm not having a bunch of kids telling me what I can do.” The boys left — but returned with reinforcements. Wani ended up in hospital; the police watched him being beaten but did nothing.