Curfew relaxed in Kashmir valley, 30 people arrested

Curfew has been reimposed in Jammu and Kashmir`s Anantnag and Pulwama towns after stone-pelting mobs clashed with security forces.

Updated: Jul 10, 2010, 21:29 PM IST

Srinagar: Curfew relaxation continued in
the Kashmir Valley, except in Sopore and Pulwana, on Saturday to
allow people to offer special prayers on Shab-e-Mehraj
festival while police picked up 30 people for allegedly
instigating mobs.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, meanwhile, appealed to
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti to reconsider her party`s decision to
stay away from an all-party meeting convened by him in
Srinagar on Monday to discuss the present situation.
Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq
offered prayers in historic Jama Masjid and proceeded to
Zadibal where he was joined by another separatist leader Syed
Hasan Budgami.

The two leaders led a peaceful procession for some
distance before quietly going home. The protest march was
later dispersed peacefully by police at University Gate near
Hazratbal.

Police also detained a separatist leader of Anantnag
Qazi Yasir and booked him under the Public Safety Act. He was
later shifted to Jammu Prison.

Some protesters came out into the streets in Qamarwari,
Naaz cinema, Nowhatta and Maisuma of the city this morning but
were chased away by the police. Restrictions were imposed
in Maisuma after the protests.

The four-day-old curfew was relaxed in the entire
valley last night following a high-level meeting presided by
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to enable people offer special
prayers overnight at the Hazratbal shrine for Shab-e-Mehraj,
an important event in the religious calendar here.

People continued to throng the Hazratbal Shrine today
to have a glimpse of a holy relic of Prophet Mohammed which is
shown to people after every prayer on Shab-e-Mehraj (night
of ascent). Nearly 10,000 people had taken part in three
special prayers till evening.

Inspector General Kashmir Range Farooq Ahmed said the
situation was peaceful in the valley.
"There was no curfew in Anantnag and Baramulla but
restrictions had to be imposed in certain parts as miscreants
started pelting stones on police," he said.

The Amarnath Yatra passed off peacefully from Anantnag
to Pahalgam. So far over one lakh pilgrims have visited the
holy cave shrine during last 10 days for which Jammu and
Kashmir Police has made an elaborate arrangement.

Shops and business establishments were open and
traffic was plying normally in the city.

However, in Pulwama district of south Kashmir curfew
had to be imposed due to tension triggered by a media report
that one person had died in police firing which was denied by
authorities.

People started coming out on the streets despite the
administration announcing that the news was incorrect. Before
things could go out of hands, the authorities decided to
impose curfew.

Kakapora area of Pulwama district had witnessed
pitched battle between mobs and security personnel last
evening which resulted in injuries to 16 security personnel
and five civilians.

Curfew continued to be in force in Sopore.

Jammu and Kashmir Police, meanwhile, continued its
crackdown on stone pelters and arrested 30 people since last
night.

Local newspapers failed to hit the stands for the
third day today despite authorities lifting the restrictions
on the movement of mediapersons due to curfew in Srinagar and
certain other parts of the valley and issued fresh curfew
passes to them.

However, various media associations decided not to
print any newspapers as they claimed that enough passes were
not issued.

The last time the newspapers did not come out was in
2008 at the height of the Amarnath land agitation. Publication
of dailies at that time was suspended for four days. Newspaper
publication had also remained suspended for 40 days during
elections in 1996.

The Chief Minister wrote to the PDP chief that he was
pained to hear about the decision of her party and renewed his
request for joining the meet on Monday, PDP sources said.

"We are on the crossroads of a crucial phase in
Kashmir and its time for all of us to join hands and work
together to pave the way forward irrespective of our political
beliefs," the Chief Minister was quoted as saying in the
letter to Mehbooba Mufti.

PDP, the main opposition party, has decided to
boycott the meeting saying it was a "purposeless exercise".

"There is total distrust between the people and this
government. So I don`t think any purpose will be served by
attending the meeting," Mufti had said yesterday.

The invitation was extended to all 12 recognised
political parties and groups by Minister for Law and
Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammed Sagar.

Curfew was clamped in Srinagar on Tuesday and army
moved in to assist the civil administration in maintaining law
and order after escalation in violence in the valley.

PTI