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Kashmir’s longest curfew ends, not crackdown

Lockdown to continue in Pulwama, parts of Srinagar; dozens of separatists held, Geelani’s PS questioned over transactions

By: Express News Service | Srinagar |
Updated: August 29, 2016 8:17:55 am
kashmir curfew, kashmir unrest, kashmir violence, kashmir clashes, kashmir tensions, tensions in kashmir, curfew in kashmir, india news On his bicycle in Srinagar Sunday, something that is a luxury during curfew. (Source: AP)

THE LONGEST ever curfew in Kashmir is set to end after 51 days, though not throughout the Valley. Curfew will continue in Pulwama town and in a few areas of Srinagar while being lifted from the rest of the Valley from Monday, the J&K government has decided.

“Following an improvement in the situation, there will be no restrictions in Kashmir Valley from tomorrow except town Pulwama and the areas falling under the jurisdictions of Police Station M R Gunj and Police Station Nowhatta,” a police spokesman said Sunday evening. These police stations are in Old Srinagar City.

A government spokesman said the Valley was largely peaceful Sunday, barring a few incidents of stone-throwing in south Kashmir — in Sangam, Ashajipora in Anantnag and Nadigam in Shopian.

Also read | Supplies shut, residents help one another with food, money and medicine

The government crackdown against separatist leaders and their supporters, however, continued across the Valley. In recent days, police have detained dozens of separatists during night raids.

On Sunday, police arrested Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s deputy Ashraf Sehrai from his home in Srinagar. Sehrai, general secretary of the Geelani-led Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, was under house arrest already and has been taken to jail.

kashmir curfew, kashmir unrest, kashmir violence, kashmir clashes, kashmir tensions, tensions in kashmir, curfew in kashmir, india news

On Saturday, police also shifted Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. leader of another Hurriyat faction, to a Cheshma Shahi hut turned into a sub-jail. Mirwaiz has been arrested for the first time since 1990.

Geelani’s PS

On Saturday, police also arrested Peer Saifullah, Geelani’s personal secretary. A statement issued by the Hurriyat said Saifullah, who had gone to Delhi for a checkup, was arrested on return and lodged at police station Humhama in Budgam.

Also read | Mann Ki Baat: With ‘Ekta, Mamata’, PM Modi reaches out to Kashmir Valley

Saifullah was questioned by a five-member team of the National Investigation Agency that has been camping in Srinagar since Friday. The NIA team led by an inspector-general of police, sources say, has interrogated three people but hasn’t made any arrests. Sources said the team had called for questioning the account holders of two “accounts with suspicious transactions”. “One of them came in and explained about the account,” a source said. “He wasn’t arrested but the investigation is still on. The other account holder hasn’t come yet.”

Sources said NIA sleuths didn’t find anything incriminating against Saifullah and thus didn’t seek his transfer from police custody to the central agency.

The NIA team was sent to Srinagar soon after the Centre blamed Pakistan for fuelling the current unrest. As The Indian Express has reported earlier, transactions amounting to approximately Rs 38 crore from 17 accounts in four banks in south Kashmir are under the NIA scanner for suspected links with militants or separatists.

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