Curfew relaxed in Kashmir Valley

August 31st, 2008 - 12:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 31 (IANS) Curfew was relaxed across the protests-hit Kashmir Valley Sunday in a phase manner following what the authorities said was a marked improvement in the law and order situation. In the first phase, the curfew — imposed eight days ago — was lifted at 9 a.m. in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir that has been the epicentre of widespread pro-independence rallies triggered originally by the Amarnath shrine land row.

The curfew is expected to be reintroduced at 1 p.m. A decision about extending the relaxation period further would be taken after reviewing the situation, a police officer told IANS here.

“There is a marked improvement in the overall situation. A decision about lifting the curfew completely would be taken in consultation with district magistrates,” Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Masood Samoon said.

The day curfew has been lifted in south Kashmir’s Kulgam and Shopian districts. It is being relaxed for longer periods in Badgam, Ganderbal, Bandipora, Pulwama, Kupwara and Anantnag districts, the official said.

The curfew was relaxed from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Baramulla town, which witnessed clashes between security forces and protesters Friday.

A valley-wide curfew was imposed Aug 24 in the wake of the arrest of three separatist leaders including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik.

The separatists then called for a march to the city centre Lal Chowk.

Another senior separatist leader, Shabir Ahmad Shah, who had been evading arrest by going underground, was arrested Friday from the uptown Rawalpora area of the city.

Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed widespread and often violent protests for over two months. The protests were triggered by a dispute over 40 hectares of forest land allotted to the Amarnath shrine board May 26.

The land transfer was revoked following protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley. That ignited prolonged protests in the Hindu-majority Jammu region.

Nearly 50 people were killed, mostly in police and paramilitary firing, in the turmoil.

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