Kashmir valley under curfew for sixth day

August 29th, 2008 - 11:41 am ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 29 (IANS) The Kashmir valley continued to be under curfew for the sixth consecutive day Friday even as authorities here booked some separatist leaders under the harsh Public Safety ACT (PSA).Asiya Andrabi, chief of the women’s separatist group Dukhtaran-e-Milat (Daughters of Faith), Ayaz Akbar, spokesman of the hardline Hurriyat group headed by Syed Ali Geelani, Hilal War and some other separatist leaders have been booked under the PSA, which permits detention of people without trial for a period of two years.

Official sources told IANS that the law and order situation was being reviewed to determine whether or not there would be any curfew relaxation in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar.

The administration apprehends protests in many areas later in the day, especially the old city areas after the Friday prayers here.

Curfew was relaxed in a phased manner across the valley during the last two days to enable people to buy food and other essential supplies.

Cable operators in the valley have stopped airing all national and international television news channels, including CNN-IBN, Times Now, NDTV, Zee News, Aaj Tak, Al-Jazeera and BBC, to protest the alleged intimidation and harassment by government agencies.

The cable operators Friday set a 24-hour deadline for the government to withdraw the orders banning the telecast of some local television news and current affairs programmes.

“If we’re not allowed to broadcast the news and current affairs programmes within 24 hours, we will suspend our entire network operations indefinitely,” Mir Amjad, president of the Kashmir Cable Operators Association, told reporters here.

For the fifth day running, the print editions of local newspapers were not available to the readers as the publications claimed that their staff could not perform their duties since the curfew passes issued to them were not being acknowledged by the security forces.

Refuting these claims, the administration here issued a statement saying clear instructions had been issued to all the deployed security personnel to allow movement of people holding curfew passes issued by the district magistrate.

“If the local newspaper offices need more curfew passes, they should approach us,” an official of the state information department said.

The Internet editions of many local papers were, however, available.

Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing widespread violent protests for more than two and a half months nows. The protests were triggered following a dispute over 40 hectares of forest land allotted to the Amarnath shrine board, which looks after a Hindu pilgrimage spot. When the land allotment decision was reversed July 1 following a Muslim backlash in the valley, Hindus in the Jammu region started protests, blocking the movement of goods to the valley for some days.

More than 45 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 rallies in the last fortnight. The largest demonstration in two decades took place last Friday when tens of thousands of Kashmiris, including women, gathered in an open area of the Eidgah grounds in Srinagar’s old city to demand “freedom” from India.

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