On Ramadan eve, three separatist leaders freed (Roundup)

September 1st, 2008 - 10:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Sep 1 (IANS) On the eve of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, Jammu and Kashmir authorities Monday freed separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik. Meanwhile, the Kashmir Valley was mostly peaceful when curfew was relaxed in phases.Geelani and Mirwaiz had been arrested here Aug 24 amid violent protests against the allotment of land to the Amarnath shrine board and in support of Kashmir’s independence. Malik was arrested in Srinagar the next day.

After his release Monday evening, the ageing Geelani was taken to the Soura Medical Institute in Srinagar. “He has been admitted with a mild chest infection,” a doctor attending on him told IANS.

The Mirwaiz, the chief cleric of Srinagar’s Jama Masjid, reached his home. Malik, who heads the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, lives in Maisuma, his stronghold. Both the Mirwaiz and Malik are considered moderates.

The authorities had arrested the three to prevent their participation in a march called by the separatists to the Srinagar city centre Lal Chowk Aug 25. Eventually, the march never took place.

Both the Jammu region and the Kashmir Valley in the state witnessed communally polarised protests and counter protests over the Amarnath land row. Relative peace has returned to the regions in recent days.

Buoyed by the steadily improving situation, the authorities lifted curfew for varying periods all across the Kashmir Valley, which accounted for most of the nearly 50 people killed in the state in protests linked to the land dispute.

On Sunday, Hindu protestors in Jammu region and the state administration reached an agreement on the use of land located in the valley.

In the state’s summer capital Srinagar, the curfew was lifted from 11.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. Monday in several areas.

These included Kothibagh, Maisuma, Batmaloo, Saddar, Nowgam, Chanpura, Nigeen, Lal Bazar, Soura, Zakoora, Zadibal and Parimpora, which are known as bastions of the three separatist leaders.

The relaxation period was later extended upto 7 p.m. except in one area, Saddar.

The curfew was also lifted for two hours in the evening until 7 p.m. in downtown Srinagar areas of Nowhatta, M.R. Gunj, Rainawari, Khanyar and Safa Kadal.

The relaxation passed off peacefully barring in Fateh Kadal in the old city and Danderkhah Batmaloo where young men stoned the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The CRPF fired rubber bullets.

“At Fateh Kadal, one person suffered a rubber bullet injury and was taken to hospital,” a police officer said.

In the south Kashmir towns of Pampore, Awantipora, Pulwama, Tral, Kulgam, Bijbehara and Anantnag and in the central Kashmir towns of Beerwah, Magam, Budgam, Soibug and Chadoora also curfew was relaxed during the day.

In north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, the curfew was eased for six hours — until 6 p.m.

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