Restrictions eased in Kashmir, landlines partially restored

Traffic moving on Jehangir Chowk flyover in Srinagar on Saturday.
Traffic moving on Jehangir Chowk flyover in Srinagar on Saturday.

6 injured in Old City clashes

Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, Aug 17: The restrictions in Srinagar and other major towns were eased today and landline telephones restored in many areas of Srinagar. However, in some parts of Srinagar, there were stone pelting clashes between protesters and security forces.
At least six people injured in the clashes were admitted to Srinagar’s hospitals, medical staff at the hospitals said.

Click here to watch video
For the first time since August 5, the police vans fitted with loud speakers didn’t announce curfew today. Normally every morning, police was announcing continuation of curfew in Srinagar.
The curbs were eased in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir after Friday prayers passed off peacefully yesterday barring few stray incidents.
However, in some old city areas of Srinagar as the restrictions were eased, youth pelted stones on the security forces leading to re-imposition of restrictions in those areas. At least six people were injured in these clashes.
The landline services were restored in some areas of the Valley including Raj Bagh and Jawahar Nagar, but remained suspended in most parts, including the commercial hub of Lal Chowk, Press Enclave, and other areas around it. However, officials said that the process of restoring the landlines is going on in a phased manner.
The shops and business establishments remained closed with security forces deployed at sensitive places of the City to prevent any protests. Some private cars were plying in civil lines areas of the city while clashes led to deserted roads in old city.
Addressing a press conference, Government spokesperson Rohit Kansal said the restrictions have been eased in 35 police station areas. “The process of providing relaxation and easing of restrictions is already in progress. Relaxation has been provided in 35 police station areas across the length and breadth of the Valley, and so far, there are no reports of any untoward incident. Public transport is plying and we have encouraging reports of a lot of public movement,” he said.
On the restoration of landline services, the Government spokesperson said of the 96 exchanges in the Kashmir valley, 17 are functional and providing landline services to the people.
“The endeavour is to make at least half of the exchanges in the Valley functional by today evening and by tomorrow evening, all the exchanges, barring a few in the vulnerable areas, would be made functional,” he said.
The Government spokesperson said primary schools across the Valley will reopen on Monday and Government offices would also be fully functional from then.
On the question of release of detained political leaders, Kansal said such a decision would be taken by the local authorities based on the law and order situation in their respective areas.
Kashmir was placed under a total clampdown on August 5, hours before the Centre announced abrogation of provisions of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Deliberating on the present situation, IGP Kashmir SP Pani said that the administration is calibrating the situation and in this regard easing is done in gradual manner.
The IGP said that so far restrictions have been lifted from 35 police stations which include North, South Kashmir and Central Kashmir.
On return of Hajis from tomorrow (Sunday), Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, informed that a comprehensive plan is in place to facilitate to commute the Hajis to their respective places.
He said two flights are slated to land tomorrow morning at Srinagar Airport carrying more than 300 Hajis, for which 10 counters for 10 districts have been set up with Nodal Officers to facilitate them.
He further said that the passes to the relatives of Hajis have been issued through concerned Deputy Commissioners.
Meanwhile, classes will resume in 190 schools in Srinagar on Monday as the district administration has made all necessary arrangements to ensure safety and security of the students, an official spokesperson said.
“As many as 190 schools will reopen on Monday in various zones of the district. The areas where schools will be opened include Lasjan, Sangri, Panthachowk, Nowgam, Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Gagribal, Dhara, Theed, Batmaloo and Shalteng,” the spokesperson said.
He said Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary convened a meeting with officers of the Education Department and heads of schools in the district.
The meeting had extensive discussions with regard to reopening of schools in the district, the spokesman said, adding that school heads and zonal education officers who attended the meeting shared their suggestions.
The spokesman said some schools in Rainawari and Eidgah areas in downtown city will also reopen on Monday.
The Deputy Commissioner while addressing the meeting, said safety and security of students is the prime concern of the district administration and all necessary arrangements have been made to ensure that.
Compensatory classes would also be held later this month to make up for the days lost, Choudhary said.
The district administration has offered the school managements all required assistance and support to restart the classes, the spokesman said.
Curfew-like restrictions were put in place in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, hours before the Centre’s move to scrap provisions of Article 370 and reorganise the State into two Union Territories.