'Train services in Kashmir likely to resume Sunday'

'Train services in Kashmir likely to resume Sunday'

Security personnel stands guard at a railway station, as a train is being run for a trial between the capital city and Banihal in south of the valley after the suspension of train services. (AFP Photo)

Two trial runs on the Srinagar-Banihal railway line were conducted successfully on Saturday, paving the way for the resumption of full services in Kashmir Valley from Sunday, more than three months after they were suspended due to security reasons, officials said.

The trial runs, through the restive south Kashmir, were done after a thorough safety audit of the section, a railway official told PTI.

He said rail services in the valley should be fully operational from Sunday.

"The train service on Srinagar-Banihal route will resume on Sunday and it is being restored for the public fully for the first time after it was suspended due to security reasons," he said.

Train services in the valley were suspended on August 3, ahead of the Centre's decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories.

Services partially resumed — on Srinagar-Baramulla stretch — on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the situation limped back to normalcy in Kashmir and the annual examinations of students in the middle classes began on Saturday.

"The annual examinations for classes five to nine started this morning," an official said.

The examinations were scheduled to start from Monday, but the first two papers were postponed due to heavy snowfall across the valley.

The valley schools have remained affected since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.

Shopkeepers at major markets across the valley have been following a pattern, opening early and then closing after noon to join protests against abrogation of the special status.

However, private cabs and auto-rickshaws were now visible on roads in large numbers, a few mini-buses have also started plying on some routes, according to the officials.

They said private transport was plying unhindered in Srinagar and elsewhere in the valley.

But pre-paid mobile phones and all internet services continue to remain suspended.

Most of the top-level and second-rung separatist politicians have been taken into preventive custody while mainstream leaders, including two former chief ministers — Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — have been either detained or placed under house arrest.

The government has detained former chief minister and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah under the controversial Public Safety Act, a law enacted by his father and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1978 when he was the chief minister.

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