Curfew lifted in Kashmir; NC-Congress MLAs rally behind Omar

Curfew was lifted in Kashmir Valley today as the NC-Congress rallied behind beleaguered CM.

Srinagar: Curfew was lifted in the entire
Kashmir Valley today after six days with improvement in the
situation even as the ruling coalition-National Conference and
the Congress rallied behind beleaguered Chief Minister Omar
Abdullah by expressing "full faith and confidence" in him.

The decision to end the curfew, clamped on July six
after incidents of violence, came after the situation remained
generally peaceful.

However, as a preventive step, prohibitory orders were
imposed in Baramulla, Anantnag and Pulwama districts besides
some parts of Srinagar.

In his first political initiative since trouble erupted
in the Valley nearly a month ago, 40-year-old Omar called a
meeting of legislators of the ruling coalition during which
the present situation in the Valley was discussed threadbare.

The Chief Minister, whose leadership has come under
attack during the turmoil, received a shot in the arm with
legislators of his National Conference as well as that of the
Congress rallying behind him and expressing "full faith and
confidence" in his leadership.

The three-hour long meeting was attended by his father
and National Conference President Farooq Abdullah as well as
Congress state chief Saif-ud-din Soz.

Out of a total of 80 MLAs and MLCs, 77 were present at
the meeting which came on the eve of tomorrow`s all party
meeting convened by Omar but is being boycotted by the main
opposition, PDP which has chosen to ignore Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh`s appeal to participate in the meeting. PDP
leader Mehbooba Mufti sought the PM`s intervention to defuse
tension in the Valley.

During today`s meeting of NC-Congress legislators,
a resolution was passed asking all "right thinking people"
irrespective of their political affiliations and ideologies,
to come forward and extend their positive support in restoring
peace and tranquility in the state.

On his part, Omar appealed to the legislators for
initiating a mass contact programme with people of their
respective constituencies. He said the current protests were
not a reflection on the governance of the state

"We are deeply pained at the unfortunate happenings in
the recent past in the state and sincerely express our anguish
and grief over the loss of life and property in these
incidents? Our whole hearted sympathies are with the bereaved
families. The government has decided to provide all possible
help and relief to such aggrieved families," said a second
resolution adopted during the meeting.

Another resolution appreciated the steps taken by the
Government in restoring peace in the state.

"We appreciate the steps taken by the Government, in its
sincere desire of restoring peace in the state with the firm
conviction of holding / protecting the rights of the people
and causing minimum inevitable inconvenience to the public at

Extending full cooperation to the Government, the two
parties appealed to every shade of opinion to join in this

"We make a fervent and sincere appeal to all right
thinking people irrespective of their political affiliations
and ideologies to come forward at this crucial juncture and
extend their active and positive support, and full cooperation
in restoring peace and tranquility in the state for the larger
good and in the best interests of the masses which is a
sine-qua-non to the resolution of the issues and problems
confronting them.

At the end the National Conference - Congress
legislature party unanimously passed a resolution expressing
full faith and confidence in the leadership of Chief Minister
Omar Abdullah.

Following the lifting of curfew, a few incidents were
reported where small groups of people came out and shouted
slogans and threw stones at the security forces, police said.

Twelve people, including one Farooq Ahmed of Narbal who
was alleged to be a key instigator of violence in Sopore, were
picked up as part of the crackdown on stone pelters.

"Curfew has been lifted from the valley. However, there
are prohibitory orders in some parts of the city as well as in
some other districts," Inspector General Kashmir Region,
Farooq Ahmad said.

The authorities relaxed curfew in Sopore in North
Kashmir from 7 AM to 11 AM and later extended the relaxation
period indefinitely as there was no untoward incident. Shops
opened there despite a strike call given by hardline Hurriyat
Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Some youths came out in Maisuma and Nowhatta areas of
Srinagar city but they were chased away by the police.

Orders banning assembly of people have been enforced
in Pulwama, Anantnag and Baramulla districts. Besides,
downtown areas of Srinagar, Maisuma, Batamaloo and Nowhatta
too are under such restrictions.

Local newspapers failed to hit the stands for the
fourth consecutive day despite authorities lifting
restrictions on movement of mediapersons.

Some media associations alleged that adequate number
of curfew passes had not been issued.

In the morning, Omar and his father offered prayers at
the graveyard of Farooq`s mother Begum Akbar Jahan on her
death anniversary. They were accompanied by a few hundred
people at the graveyard on the banks of Dal Lake in Hazratbal.

All the 12 recognised political parties and
groups have been invited to attend Monday`s all-party meeting.

Explaining her decision to stay away from the meeting,
Mehbooba Mufti said, "the situation is so bad that we need to
defuse the tension on the ground and need a bigger initiative
from the highest authority which would be taken seriously by
the people".

She said the Omar government has lost credibility
and exhausted all its options. The PDP leader demanded
immediate withdrawal of Army from the Valley, lifting of all
"curbs" on the media and stoppage of crackdown on protestors.


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