Tenuous calm in Srinagar, Kashmir Valley as curfew continues

Srinagar, July 8 (Calcutta Tube) A tenuous peace prevailed in Srinagar and the Kashmir Valley with no major incident of violence reported Thursday, as the army conducted flag marches for the second day to enforce the indefinite curfew imposed after several deaths when security forces fired on violent protesters.

‘There was no relaxation in the indefinite curfew that was imposed here Wednesday. People stayed indoors and the law and order situation was under control throughout the Valley,’ a senior police officer told IANS Thursday evening.

‘The curfew was imposed to protect civilian life and property from the designs of anti-social elements and it will not remain in force a minute longer than it is required,’ he added.

As the army carried out more flag marches in the peripheral areas of the summer capital to ensure observance of the curfew, the central government has decided to send additional paramilitary troops to augment those already deployed in the Valley.

‘The first batch of additional deployments of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) would arrive here tomorrow (Friday),’ a senior police officer said here.

Meanwhile, the administration has cancelled all the curfew passes.

Residents in curfew-bound uptown and old city areas, reached on phone, said their areas were facing a crisis of water and electric supply shortages because the employees of these essential services had not been issued curfew passes by the authorities so far.

‘We have been facing acute shortage of water and electricity as employees maintaining these services in our area have not reported for duties for the second day today (Thursday),’ said Mehraj-ud-Din, a resident of old city here.

Reports from Sopore, Baramulla, Kupwara and Handwara towns in north Kashmir, and Anantnag, Koimoh, Pulwama and Kakpora in south Kashmir said curfew continued there without any relaxation Thursday and no major untoward incident had occurred anywhere in these areas.

All scheduled examinations to be held by the Kashmir University as well as various professional exams by the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission have been postponed.

In a statement here, Mehbooba Mufti, the president of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) appealed the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to personally intervene in Kashmir to address the extremely volatile situation here.

‘If the prime minister does not intervene at this juncture, I fear all mainstream political parties would become irrelevant in Kashmir,’ she said.

Meanwhile, Home Minister, P. Chidambaram said in Delhi the army was deployed in Srinagar as a ‘deterrent’, with the police and paramilitary forces maintaining the law and order here.

‘The army has been kept ready. The purpose of deployment of the army was a deterrent effect. Police and paramilitary forces are maintaining the law and order,’ he told reporters.

Chidambaram said the army would be deployed in Srinagar ‘as long as it is necessary’.

‘And I hope it will not be necessary for too long,’ he said, adding the curfew should be enforced ‘and observed by everybody for the next two-three days’.

The minister appealed to parents in the valley not to allow their children to violate the curfew and stone security personnel.

‘Our appeal to the people of Jammu and Kashmir is – observe the curfew, stay indoors. It is important that people don’t come into the streets and start stone pelting. Parents must ensure that their children, young boys should remain indoors,’ he said.

Home Secretary G. K. Pillai, on the completion of visit to Kashmir, said the state government needed to crackdown more sternly on anti-social elements and trouble-makers.

During his visit, Pillai, Director General Military Operations, Lt Gen A.M. Verma, Srinagar-based 15th Corps commander Lt Gen G.S. Marwah and state Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda had a four-hour law and order review meeting with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

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