All-party delegation to visit J-K on Monday

The all-party delegation will be led by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and may fly to the violence-hit regions of the Valley “as early as on Monday”, according to Home Ministry sources. A detailed agenda for the delegation is being readied by the ministry in consultation with political parties and the state government.

The members of the delegation, expected to be in the state for two to three days, may also visit homes of some of the victims of the violence that has been on since June.
“The feedback received from the all-party delegation would form an important input into the government’s evolving response on various issues relating to Jammu and Kashmir,” a statement issued after Wednesday’s all-party meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.

The Valley has been reeling under severe violence that has claimed 96 lives, including that of Yasir Rafiq Sheikh, cousin of JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, who was injured in police firing on August 30. He was taken to a Delhi hospital for treatment but succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday night.

As curfew continued in Kashmir and Poonch and Medhar areas of Jammu for the fifth consecutive day on Thursday, security forces killed seven militants in two different encounters. Defence spokesman, Lt Col J S Brar, said five militants were killed in the Woodkan-Tadkalyan forests of Tral area in south Kashmir. “The operation was launched on specific information regarding the presence of militants there. The militants were asked to surrender but they opened fire. In retaliatory fire, five of them were killed,” he said, adding, two more militants were killed in Gurez sector of Bandipora.
Reports also said curfew was defied in places like Bemina, Sopore and Wagoora. Police and security forces had to use force to disperse the protestors. Twenty five persons were injured in the clashes.

Farooq meets Sonia and PM
Moving swiftly to scotch reports of revival of a Congress-PDP tie-up, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Thursday called on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, DHNS reports from New Delhi.

Speculation of a fresh look at the relationship between the two parties had gained ground as Jammu and Kashmir’s People’s  Democratic Party leader Mufti Mohammed Sayeed met Sonia and Singh on Tuesday. Mufti’s daughter and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti was also not critical of the Union government and was balanced in her approach when she spoke at the all-party meeting on J&K here on Wednesday.

This, along with her father’s discussions with Sonia and PM set off a speculation. However, Abdullah rejected such suggestions and dismissed reports that his son and J&K chief minister Omar would resign. Any possible revival of a Congress-PDP relationship were all but scotched by Congress scion Rahul Gandhi as he said in Kolkata on Thursday that Omar was having a tough job and should be given time.

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