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Members of delegation meet Jailed leader Shabir Ahmed Shah, Pandits in Jammu

September 21, 2010, Jammu / Srinagar (Calcutta Tube): Continuing its efforts to reach out to the separatists’, the five-member all-party delegation met jailed separatists leader Shabir Ahmad Shah in Jammu.

The delegation led by T R Baalu held a meeting with Shah at Col Chopra Government Medical College Hospital here where Shah is undergoing treatment on Tuesday.

Members also visited a Kashmiri Pandits migrant camp in Jammu.

The chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party has been arrested for over a year now under the Public Safety Act and is charged with instigating people and disrupting peace. He has been lodged in the Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu. He had not been keeping well lately and is being treated in hospital.

Sources told Agence India Press that the delegation exchanged views with him and wished him speedy recovery.

A separate five-member group led by Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury visited a Kashmiri Pandits migrant camp at Muthi in Jammu that houses over 5,000 Hindu migrants who fled the Valley when secessionist violence erupted there over 20 years ago.

The team visited the camp to have a first-hand account of the conditions of the Pandits and know their views as well.

Migrants, told the delegates that Kashmiri Hindus had been ‘living in inhuman conditions’ ever since they migrated to Jammu in 1990.

‘We had applied for jobs in the Valley but for that we would have to stay in the Valley only. That’s an unacceptable condition,’ said by a young woman.

Over 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley migrated when violence erupted there in 1990. Most of them came to Jammu and were housed by the government in various camps on the edges of city. They had to initially live in tents until the government later built one-room tenements for them.

Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah welcomed the meeting between a section of the all-party delegation and the separatists, calling it a “good first step”.

“I am glad that they didn’t wait for any consensus to emerge. If we had waited for a consensus before these meetings with the separatists, it wouldn’t have happened,” he told a news channel.

The minister said the meeting was a “good exercise” since it was an effort to understand the sentiments of the people and that it would not remain a cosmetic exercise, as the separatists were alleging, if something concrete emerges from it.

Even though there wasn’t a softening on part of the separatists, the fact that Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani met with the delegation and “two completely divergent opinions” were tabled constructively was a promising start, said the minister.

A 39-member all-party delegation led by Home Minister P. Chidambaram is visiting Jammu and Kashmir to get a sense of the ground situation before deciding on steps to defuse tensions.

Meanwhile, situation in Kashmir remained peaceful on Tuesday, as the government relaxed curfew in different parts of the valley.

The curfew in different parts of the valley was relaxed at varying times and duration of the day.

In East, West and South Zones from 3 to 7 pm, while in North and Hazratbal Zones from 4 to 7 pm. Similarly, in Kangan curfew restrictions were relaxed from 11 to 3 pm, in Anantnag from 2 to 4 pm, in Awantipora from 3 pm to 5pm, Pampore townfrom 5pm to 7 pm, in Tral 4pm to 7 pm, in Bandipora from 4pm to 5 pm, Kulgam from 2pm onwards.

In Armpora, Chinkipora and Iqbal Market areas of Sopore, curfew was relaxed from 2 to 4 pm. However, it had to be re-imposed immediately after stone-pelters try to disturb the law and order situation, said police.

Later, in some other parts of Sopore Curfew was relaxed from 5pm to 7 pm, they said.

Situation during curfew relaxation in Srinagar, Kangan, Ganderbal, and Anantnag, and other places remained peaceful.

However, authorities have decided to impose curfew in the Srinagar city on Wednesday.

“Curfew will remain in force in Srinagar on Wednesday. We will assess the situation in the afternoon and will decide about the relaxation accordingly,” local news daily quoted as District Magistrate Srinagar, Meraj Ahmad Kakroo said. (AIPTV)
Amit Khurana/ Wasim Khan, Agence India Press

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