August 2016 News

Curfew Lifted In Kashmir As Situation Eases After 51 Days

29 August 2016
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: With an all-party delegation headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh set to visit Kashmir Valley on September 4, lifting of curfew and security restrictions on Monday eased life for locals for the first time in 51 days. Police said the curbs were withdrawn in the wake of 'improvement in the situation.' Of 10 districts in the Valley, only Pampore town in south Kashmir and two police station areas in Srinagar city continued to remain under curfew. Sporadic protests broke out in parts of Srinagar, Anantnag, Shopian, Bandipora and Budgam districts. Tear gas shells were lobbed as protesters clashed with the security forces. A heavy deployment of forces was made in the city after the clashes broke out. There was no report of casualty. Private vehicles plied in the commercial hub of Lal Chowk, where many government offices and banks resumed functioning. However, shops, petrol pumps, business establishments and educational institutes remained closed in response to the separatists' shutdown call till September 1. People were seen buying eatables and stocking up on essentials. Mr. Singh will head an all-party delegation to J&K for a dialogue with stakeholders to restore normality in the Valley, where the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani on July 8 sparked a cycle of violence that has left 70 dead and 10,000 injured. 'Threads need to be picked up from where they were left by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2005, when a serious effort was made, both on the external and internal fronts, to resolve the Kashmir issue through a credible and meaningful dialogue and confidence-building process,' Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said in Jammu. She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had the mandate 'to take bold decisions on the lines of Vajpayeeji'. 'A credible mechanism for dialogue, reconciliation and resolution needs to be put in place. It should not be half-hearted efforts made in similar situations after the 2008 and 2010 unrests,' she added. All top separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Syed Ali Geelani, remain non-committal to the dialogue initiative of the Centre as they await a formal invitation. 'Kashmir's struggle has entered into a sensitive phase. Leadership and people have to remain steadfast and extremely cautious,' said the Mirwaiz, in a statement issued from the Chesmashahi sub-jail. The Hurriyat has asked the government 'to come clean' on the reasons behind the detention of the Mirwaiz. Mr. Geelani on Monday alleged that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has asked his elder son Naeem Geelani to present himself for questioning. 'A notice from the NIA to Geelani's son asked him to report to their interrogation centre in Shivpora for questioning. Geelani's family is being intimidated and maligned in a well-thought conspiracy. Such moves will not cow down Geelani sahib,' said a Hurriyat spokesman. The Government has failed to stop separatists from issuing weeklong protest calendars, which are evoking significant response from across the Valley. It remains to be seen if the detention of Mr. Malik and the Mirwaiz will help in breaking the chain of these protest calendars.

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