Kashmir Valley Starts Seventh Day Under Curfew
30 August 2008
: The Kashmir valley continued to be under curfew for the seventh consecutive day Saturday, but officials said restrictions would be relaxed in a phased manner in the state’s summer capital Srinagar and other nine districts.“The curfew will be relaxed for two hours in the district headquarters of Badgam, Ganderbal, Shopian, Kulgam, Kupwara and Pulwama from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” a police officer told IANS. “The district magistrates have been told to review the situation during and after the relaxation period and explore the possibility of the curfew relaxation period being extended,” he added. The officer said curfew would also be relaxed in a phased manner in various areas of Srinagar. About 20 religious and social groups as well as organisations of traders and intellectuals have urged the central and state governments and the militants to implement a comprehensive ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir. In a statement, they requested the Muzaffarabad-based conglomerate of guerrillas, the United Jihad Council (UJC), to halt their actions in civilian areas. “The minorities should not be treated as cannon fodder to carry out the agenda of vested interests in sabotaging the peoples’ movement of Kashmir,” the statement said. The signatories to the statement include Muhammad Bashiruddin Ahmed, head Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir and in-charge of religious affairs; Mirwaiz Molvi Riyaz Ahmed Hamdani of the Islamic Study Circle and Aga Syed Hassan Al Moosvi, prominent Shia leader and president of Anjuman Sharie Shiyaan. The Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Chamber of Commerce and Industries Kashmir, Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owner’s Federation, Valley Citizens Council, Kashmir Traders Federation, Kashmir University Teachers Association and the Kashmir Thinker’s Guild are among some of the organisations whose members signed the petition. Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing widespread violent protests for more than two and a half months now. The protests were triggered by a dispute over 40 hectares of forest land allotted to the Hindu Amarnath shrine board. The land transfer was later cancelled. When the land allotment decision was reversed July 1 following a Muslim backlash in the valley, Hindus in the Jammu region staged demonstrations, blocking the movement of goods to the valley for some days. More than 47 people have died, mostly in police and paramilitary firing, in the turmoil, which has been stoked both by separatist leaders in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley and Hindu groups in Jammu. The unrest also breathed life into the separatist movement in Kashmir, which witnessed huge pro-freedom rallies in the last fortnight.