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All-party team concludes J&K visit
Jammu/ Srinagar, Sept 22 (IANS/PTI):
Published on 23 Sep. 2010 12:18 AM IST
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A 39-member all-party delegation Wednesday concluded its three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir and flew back to New Delhi in a special plane from here, an official source said.
The team led by union Home Minister P Chidambaram arrived in Jammu Tuesday after spending one and a half days in Srinagar.
The delegation, which visited the state to get a sense of the ground situation before deciding on steps to defuse tensions, met a cross section of people here, including political groups and Kashmiri Hindu migrants and traders.
Besides Chidambaram, the delegation included Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal (Congress) as well as Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The delegation’s visit was necessitated by an unending cycle of stone throwing, clashes and killings. More than 100 people have been killed in the clashes since June 11.
Chidambaram’s predecessor Shivraj Patil had led such a delegation during the Amarnath land row in August 2008, and former deputy prime minister Devi Lal in March 1990.
Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was a member of the first all-party delegation in 1990, when the militancy had started rattling the Kashmir Valley and the people were frenzied about “azadi” sentiment and the gunmen were hailed as “liberators”.
A meeting of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) Sep 13 had decided to send the delegation to the state to assess the situation and suggest measures to find a way out to end the deadlock. For the second time in as many days, authorities today announced relaxation in curfew in parts of Srinagar, Ganderbal and Pulwama districts even as the toll in the ongoing agitation rose to 104 after a youth succumbed to injuries in a hospital here.
“There will be an indefinite relaxation in South, East and West zones of Srinagar city from 3 PM onwards,” a police spokesman told PTI.
Curfew was imposed in Srinagar on September 12 and was extended to the entire Kashmir Valley the next day following widespread violence. The prohibitory order was relaxed in a phased manner in Srinagar and other major towns yesterday but was being imposed strictly since last night.
“The authorities will be monitoring the law and order situation during the relaxation period and a decision will be taken accordingly,” the spokesman said. He said there will be no relaxation in curfew in interior parts of Srinagar falling under North and Hazratbal zones. “A decision to relax curfew in these areas will be taken later,” he said.
Earlier, the spokesman said curfew was relaxed in Ganderbal district town and adjoining Kangan town around noon.
Similarly, the authorities announced relaxation in curfew in Pulwama district town along with Awantipora town from 1 pm to 4 pm.
Although the relaxation period passed off peacefully yesterday, the authorities decided to impose the curfew strictly today apparently in view of the weekly agitation calendar issued by hardline Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
The toll in the ongoing agitation today rose to 104 after a youth, Sajad Ahmad Pandit, allegedly injured in firing by security forces on September 13 at Humhama in Budgam district, died at SKIMS Hospital here early this morning, the spokesman said.
U.N. chief appeals for restraint in Kashmir
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate end to violence in Kashmir and appealed for restraint by all parties, his spokesperson said on Wednesday.
“The Secretary-General regrets the latest loss of life. He calls for an immediate end to violence and urges calm and restraint by all concerned,” Martin Nesirky told journalists, adding that Mr. Ban was “closely following events”.
The Kashmir Valley remains under a relaxed curfew after months of persistent clashes between demonstrators and security personnel, which have claimed more than 100 lives.
The statement comes almost a month after the U.N. sent out an email, which said that Mr. Ban called on “all concerned to exercise utmost restraint and address problems peacefully” and he “encourages both sides to rekindle the spirit of the composite dialogue”. Following protests by the Indian government, the U.N. withdrew the remarks and described it as “media guidance” and not a “statement by the Secretary-General”.

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