For the first time in 52 days, curfew was lifted from Kashmir valley barring three police stations, setting the stage for a visit by an all-party delegation to J&K on September 4.
The delegation led by home minister Rajnath Singh will explore the possibility of a dialogue to bring peace to the valley racked by protests since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. The delegation will be in the valley for two days which could be extended by a day if it goes to Jammu as well. The delegation will meet a cross-section of individuals and organisations in Srinagar on September 4 and 5. The opposition has demanded a political outreach since violent protests broke out and the timing of the visit seems to have been worked out in chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's meetings with Singh in Srinagar and PM Narendra Modi in Delhi.
Singh also held a discussion with BJP chief Amit Shah, finance minister Arun Jaitley and MoS in PMO Jitendra Singh in what was described as a stock-taking exercise which decided that an all-party delegation should go to Srinagar as quickly as possible. The Centre has informed political parties about the visit and the dates. While there is no official word on the entities the delegation will engage with, indications are that it will limit itself to the brief followed by the team which went to the state in the wake of protests in 2010. Then, LJP leader and now food minister Ram Vilas Paswan had met some Hurriyat leaders separately .
This time too, the team may not talk to secessionists but individuals in the group will be free to interact with anybody they wish to. Meanwhile, J&K began limping towards normalcy even though some clashes were re ported from a number of places in Srinagar and parts of Budgam district but nobody was hurt in these incidents, police said.
Police station areas of Nowhatta and Maharaj Gunj in Srinagar and Pulwama district remain under curfew. Miscreants emerged on the streets in these areas and tried to creating trouble.Rioters pelted stones on private vehicles, erected barricades and also stoned vehicles of security forces, leading to clashes at multiple places. The clashes erupted at Sekkidafar, Nawa Kadal, Chhanapora, Magarmal Bagh, Eidgah Safa Kadal, Rainawari, Saida Kadal, Batamaloo, Habba Kadal, Kani Kadal and Hawal areas of Srinagar. Following the clashes, the authorities imposed restrictions in these areas and also tightened curfew in other areas where it was already imposed.
Forces were rushed to the troubled areas but intense clashes erupted in the interiors of Batamaloo between forces and youths. Police used tear gas shells and also chased away the protesters but they kept re-grouping intermittently . The authorities re-imposed curfew at Batamaloo in the afternoon, reports said .
According to a statement issued by police, minor incidents of stone pelting were reported from Srinagar, Anantnag, Kulgam, Sopore, Kupwara and Bandipora.