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J&K dialogue term finalised
Srinagar/Jammu, Jul 25 (IANS/Agencies):
Published on 25 Jul. 2010 11:02 PM IST
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The Indian government has finalised the terms of dialogue that it intends to open with all the groups in Jammu and Kashmir, including the separatists, highly placed sources said Saturday.
The sources here, in touch with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, told IANS that the central government would open dialogue with the groups in Kashmir with a straight offer to dilute the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the legal cover that shields armed forces from prosecution for any acts of omission and commission in counter-terrorism operations. It is one of the recommendations of the working group constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006.
Sources said that the government had also decided to inquire into the circumstances leading to 17 deaths in the Kashmir Valley since June 11. It will also open all the recommendations of the working groups and take measures step by step, sources added.
“There is also a likelihood of an employment package being announced for the unemployed youth in Kashmir, including those who were found to be involved in the incidents of stone throwing,” an official, who is in know of the behind-the scene developments, said. Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir government is reviewing the detention and arrest of hardline separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani and many others in a bid to bring peace to the valley, an official said Sunday.
Over 40 people were arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA) that empowers the government to arrest and lodge a person in jail without trial for one year.
The PSA prisoners, including Geelani, are among the over 500 arrested since June in the Kashmir Valley during the past two months in the wake of massive street protests over civilian killings.
An official source said the review was undertaken following political pressure from mainstream political parties which feel that the release of those jailed would help calm tensions.
“It (reviewing) will deny perennial provocation to the stone-pelters as many take to the streets to create a situation to get their fellow protesters released, an official associated with the exercise told IANS. The trouble in the Kashmir Valley began after the killing of 17-year-old Tufail Mattoo allegedly in police action.
The situation has not shown any signs of abating as Mattoo’s death led to a cycle of violence that continues.
Srinagar buzzes with life
Markets overflowed with shoppers, vendors put up their wares and roads saw heavy traffic as Srinagar and other major towns of the Kashmir Valley Sunday sprang to life after a week of separatist shutdowns and official restrictions. The Jammu and Kashmir Bank and a few other private and cooperative banks here opened despite it being a Sunday to provide cash to customers who could not avail of any banking facilities last week.
Markets were jam-packed and vendors looked forward to brisk business. Traffic moved at snail’s pace in Srinagar as all major traffic arteries were blocked with motorists and autorickshaw drivers blowing their horns to make way.
A resident said the buzz in the city resembled the bustle seen ahead of Eid.
“It is like the buying spree on Eid-eve... Everybody seems to have come out of their homes,” said Junaid Kawoosa, a bank official.
Kawoosa said he had filled his car’s tank with fuel as petrol pumps didn’t function in the city because of the separatist shutdowns and protests.
“I have bought essential goods and medicines for my family. You never know how long or short the next spell of separatist shutdowns and official restrictions could be,” he said.
The valley has been virtually paralysed due to violent protests against civilians being killed in firing by security forces. Fourteen people, including a 25-year old woman, have been killed in firing by security personnel across the Kashmir Valley since June 11.
The army was called in to help maintain law and order as the violence spiralled.
Hardline separatist Hurriyat group headed by Syed Ali Geelani had asked people to resume normal activities across Kashmir from Sunday.
Syed Sallahuddin, the Muzaffarabad-based commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, in a telephonic interview to a local news agency, had appealed to the Hurriyat leaders to modify their resistance programme so that the people did not suffer due to the shutdowns and curfew.
Ignoring the Hizbul chief commander’s appeal, Masrat Alam, an underground leader of the hardline Hurriyat group, Saturday evening issued another weeklong resistance calendar, asking people to observe shutdowns and protests this week barring Tuesday and Saturday.

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