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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Valley cool to Rajnath’s visit as Congress, traders turn down invite
Curfew lifted from 4 districts, parts of Srinagar on 15th day of turbulence

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 23: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday arrived in for a series of meetings over the 15-day-long turbulence in Kashmir valley after militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8, even as Congress and different traders’ bodies turned down invitations from Government of India.

Rajnath Singh, who was received at technical area of Srinagar airport and accompanied by several BJP Ministers, went straight to Nehru Guest House where, official sources said, 24 delegations called on him and discussed the current political crisis. However, Congress and different representative bodies and alliances of traders announced their boycott to Rajnath Singh’s visit. They told media that there was no logic in meeting Mr Singh until his Government stopped “killing of innocent civilians” in Kashmir.

Significantly, PDP’s Ministers were absent, both at the airport as well as Nehru Guest House where Mr Singh is staying for a night before flying back to New Delhi. Sources said that only the Youth PDP President Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra called on Mr Singh and met him briefly.

In the afternoon, Mr Singh drove down to Raj Bhawan and held a meeting with Governor N.N. Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. He was accompanied by union Home Secretary besides DGs of BSF and ITBP.

Before his departure on Sunday, Mr Singh is scheduled to meet different political delegations from PDP,BJP, Panthers Party, National Conference, LJP, CPI and CPM. Independent MLAs Engineer Rashid and Hakim Mohammad Yasin are also expected to call on him. Sources said that Mr Singh was likely hold a larger meeting with senior functionaries of the State Government including Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and her Cabinet Ministers besides representatives of Police, security forces and the Central intelligence agencies.

The guests would brief him about the reasons behind the 15-day-long turbulence that has left as many as 47 persons dead and, according to official figures, as many as 3000 Police and security personnel and 2200 civilians injured in over 700 clashes after Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter.

Leading separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah have already declared that none of them would oblige Mr Singh with a meeting. In a statement, Geelani said that Rajnath Singh was in Kashmir only to praise his armed forces for killing 55 civilians and leaving thousands injured and blinded.

Knowledgeable sources revealed to STATE TIMES that Government of India attempted to arrange Rajnath Singh’s secret meetings with some separatist leaders, traders and members of civil society. However, none of them was inclined to meet the union Home Minister. Government has strictly asked the officials not to disclose identity of any of the visitors who called on the Union Home Minister in 24 delegations on Saturday.

Curfew lifted in 4 districts

Meanwhile, authorities for the first time in the last 15 days lifted curfew in Budgam, Bandipora, Baramulla and Ganderbal districts besides parts of the summer capital of Srinagar. Official said that curfew remained in forces only in jurisdiction of six Police Stations in downtown Srinagar. It was imposed again on Batmaloo as a crowd gathered during relaxation and clashed with Police and CRPF. Reports said that at least five persons sustained injuries in the ding dong clashes.

Officials said that low intensity clashes took place at around 30 different spots in different districts. However, nobody was killed or seriously injured in today’s clashes.

Separatist-sponsored shutdown continued in Kashmir on the 15th consecutive day as transport was off the road and no shops, business establishments, educational institutions or banks opened for business anywhere in the Valley. All mobile phone services, except BSNL's postpaid and landline broadband have been shut down since last fortnight in Kashmir. 

Police Version

A Police spokesman said in a statement that the situation throughout the Kashmir valley remained peaceful and under control.

“Apart from the six Police Stations of Srinagar, Pulwama and Anantnag towns, curfew was lifted from all other places in Valley. However, restrictions on assembly of people continued throughout the Valley. There were no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere in the valley although some stray stone pelting incidents were reported from isolated places. During the law and order situations in last 15 days more than 3000 police and security force personnel suffered injuries across Kashmir”, the Police spokesman said.



Times Now, News X, Zee News TV channels blocked on cable in Kashmir

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Jul 23: Without issuing an official order, authorities have got three particular Indian satellite news television channels removed from all cable TV networks in Kashmir valley.

Informed sources said that days after writing to the union Home Secretary, officers in Mehbooba Mufti’s Government have got three particular channels blocked. However, all these channels are running uninterrupted through dish.

The State Government is understood to have complained to the Centre that four news TV channels, namely Times Now, News X, Zee News and Aaj Tak were “spreading disharmony” and indulging in “anti-Muslim and anti-Kashmir propaganda” in their prime time news and current affairs programmes on daily basis. It was not immediately clear whether the Centre had suggested blackout of the three channels on cable networks or the officials had managed it through Police of their own.

Inspite of the State Government’s objection, Aaj Tak is still operating through cable networks in the Valley. The cable operators have also shut down Iranian Press TV besides all the Pakistani channels excluding PTV Sports.

Sources said that the action had been taken three days before a PIL came up against these channels in J&K High Court.

[Published in Sunday's STATE TIME]

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