Curbs lifted from most of Kashmir

Government spokesman Rohit Kansal and senior officials addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Saturday.
Government spokesman Rohit Kansal and senior officials addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Saturday.

Govt says BDC polls by Sept end

Excelsior Correspondent/PTI
SRINAGAR, Aug 24: Authorities lifted restrictions from most of Kashmir today, a day after they had imposed strict curbs on movement of people in the Valley in view of the Friday prayers and the proposed march of separatists to the local United Nations office.
Day-time restrictions have been lifted from 69 police station areas in the Valley, J&K Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal told reporters this evening.
Officials said traffic movement increased today and attendance in offices also improved. However, public transport remained off roads and markets in the Valley were shut for the 20th day. Vendors have put up stalls in Batamaloo and Lal Chowk areas of Srinagar.
Despite the curbs, Kansal said, the total dispatch of fruits this year has been 1.20 lakh metric tonnes against 89,000 metric tonnes during the corresponding period last year.
Divisional and district administrations are taking necessary steps to ensure that the harvesting, transport and export of fruits continue smoothly and unhindered.
Kansal, also the administration’s spokesperson, said about 1,500 primary schools and 1,000 middle schools have reopened since August 5 when the Centre withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and reorganised the State into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. But the attendance of students has remained thin.
He said security forces are maintaining a close watch and local disturbances were being handled at the local level. Incidents of protests and stone pelting have declined steadily in the past one week. “Three incidents were reported on August 21 and two on August 22,” he said.
The threat of cross-border terrorism, however, continues to exist and the security forces are maintaining a state of high alert, he said.
He said restoration of landline telephone services is being reviewed continuously and eight new exchanges — comprising 5,300 phones — are likely to be restored “over the weekend”.
The endeavour is to restore landline phones in the 69 police station areas from where day-time restrictions have been lifted, he said.
Restrictions were imposed in view of the Friday congregational prayers and separatists’ call for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan in Sonawar. Officials said the situation remained peaceful on Friday.
On Saturday, they added, barricades were removed from most areas but concertina wire barriers remained in place on roads in some areas of Srinagar and elsewhere in the Valley and security forces allowed the movement of people only after checking their identity cards.
Asked about the number of people detained across the Valley, the spokesperson said the detentions were subjected to “dynamic reviews”.
“We are facing a situation of cross-border terrorism and public law and order. The local law enforcing agencies may take decisions at the local level and these decisions are subjected to dynamic reviews. If there are arrests, there are also releases also,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Government today said preparations are underway to hold elections for Block Development Councils in the State by the end of September.
“Elections will be held in 316 Block Development Councils (BDC)across the State,” Secretary Rural Development Department Sheetal Nanda told a joint press conference which was also addressed by Government spokesman Rohit Kansal, Director Information Sehrish Asgar and Director Horticulture Ajaz Ahmad Bhat.
“The first step is to complete the reservations across the Valley and Jammu division. We are getting everything ready and hope to hold the elections by the end of September,” Nanda said.