Kashmir Valley calm, PDP backs out of all-party meet

Last Updated 11 July 2010, 15:11 IST

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti stood her ground and turned down Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's request to attend the all-party meeting.

"It was very kind of the prime minister to call me. I have deep regard for the PM. He advised us to attend the meeting. But it was painful to convey my inability to attend the meeting," Mehbooba told reporters, a day after Manmohan Singh called her urging her to reconsider her refusal to attend the meeting.

She said the situation in the Kashmir Valley was "so bad that nothing at the level of the state government, that has been discredited, will help... unless there is a bigger initiative which will be taken seriously by the people who are caught in a prison like situation".
"I told the PM to excuse us. But we are looking forward to a bigger initiative from him," she said, but didn't elaborate.

She alleged that the Omar Abdullah government was trying to hide its "failures" by convening such a meeting after taking all the decisions that "he shouldn't have taken".
Meanwhile, the Valley was clam Sunday, although preventive restrictions were imposed in the old city areas of Srinagar, uptown Maisuma and Batmaloo localities after a 24-hour break. 

"Curfew was also imposed in the main market area of Anantnag town, but lifted from other areas there," a senior police officer said.

Road intersections were blocked with barricades and wire coils. Security forces patrolled the sensitive Batmaloo and Maisuma localities. Restrictions were also imposed in the two south Kashmir towns of Pulwama and Kakpore to maintain law and order.
"Curfew was relaxed from 11 a.m. in Sopore town and the relaxation continues there despite a stray incident of stone pelting in which the station house officer (SHO) Sopore suffered an injury on his head. Elsewhere in the valley, the situation was peaceful," the officer said.

Restrictions apart, life in Srinagar and other towns was paralyzed due to a protest shutdown called by the hardline Hurriyat Conference group led by Syed Ali Geelani.
A joint meeting of the ruling National Conference (NC) and Congress legislators was chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. 

Farooq Abdullah, the union minister for new and renewable sources of energy, and Congress leader Saif-ud-Din Soz also attended the meeting.  
The meeting discussed ways and means to reach out to the people and address their grievances so that the present cycle of violence ends.
A statement issued at the end of the meeting said the legislature parties of both the NC and the Congress had expressed complete faith and confidence in the chief minister.
Authorities had relaxed curfew in the entire Kashmir Valley Friday evening to enable people to join the special prayers on the Muslim festival of Shab-e-Meraj (ascension of the Prophet to heaven).

During the relaxation, people thronged shops in various localities of the capital city and other towns to buy essential commodities.

(Published 11 July 2010, 05:44 IST)

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