On the day when Parliamentarians belonging to various political parties arrived in Srinagar to hold talks with sections of society, over a hundred people have been injured during protests in south Kashmir on Sunday.
Clashes broke out in Shopian and Anantnags district this morning where police foiled two different protest rallies and used force to disperse the people.
Curfew remained clamped in parts of Srinagar on a day the all-party delegation was here on a two-day visit aimed at restoring peace in the Valley.
Normal life in the Valley was paralysed for the 58th day as restrictions continued in the rest of the Valley which has been hit by violence since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July.
An all-party delegation led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh is in Srinagar today on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, aimed at restoring peace in the Valley.
People in Penjoora village of Shopian tried to take out a protest rally which was stopped by the police, leading to clashes, an official said.
The protesters also set afire the mini-secretariat building, housing the deputy commissioner's office in the area, the official said.
He said the security forces resorted to baton charge and tear-gas shelling to disperse the protesters.
"There are some injuries but more details are awaited," he said.
Yesterday, protesters in the neighbouring Kulgam district burnt a house of the ruling PDP's block president Gulzar Ahmad.
Ahmad had facilitated a meeting of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti with the family of a victim of violence in the district. Mehbooba had visited the family of Late Mashooq Ahmed, firing victim of Kund, Kulgam and offered condolences to the bereaved family yesterday.
"Curfew remains in force in five police station areas of downtown Srinagar," a police spokesman said.
He said curfew in these areas of the summer capital continued as a precautionary measure in view of the call given by separatists asking people to occupy Airport road, city centre Lal Chowk and district headquarters against the all-party delgation's visit.
The spokesman said curfew has been lifted from the other areas of the city where it was in force yesterday.
"Curfew has been lifted from Batamaloo and Maisuma areas in the uptown city in view of the improving situation," the police spokesman said.
He, however, said restrictions on the assembly of people were in place in the rest of the Valley.
Normal life remained affected in Kashmir due to the separatist sponsored strike on 58th day. Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps continued to remain shut during day time and open only in the evening. Public transport continued to be off the roads.
The separatists have extended the shutdown till September 8.
As many as 71 persons, including two police personnel, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the clashes between protesters and security forces in the Valley since Wani was killed in an encounter in south Kashmir on July 8.
All-party delegation holds talks with Mehbooba Mufti
The all-party delegation led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh today held talks with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti here as it began a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir during which it is expected to interact with a cross-section of people with a view to restore peace in the strife-hit Valley.
The meeting, chaired by Singh at Sher-I-Kashmir International Conference Centre soon after the 26-member delegation arrived here, discussed the security situation in the Valley.
It also took stock of those injured in the violent protests since the killing of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani on July 8.
Initially, the delegation was proposed to be of 29 Members of Parliament, but only 26 MPs have come here.
Cutting across party lines, leaders said that they were hopeful of finding a solution for restoration of peace in the Valley which has been in the grip of violent protests that left left 71 persons dead and scores of others injured.
State Education Minister and Government Spokesperson Naeem Akhtar said it was necessary for all stakeholders to join the dialogue process.
"How long can this continue? It has to end someday," he said.
When asked about Mehbooba not mentioning talks "within the ambit of Constitution" in her letter to the separatist leaders last evening, he said every party comes to the negotiating table with their stated position.
"It depends on how we carry forward the dialogue and ideas to find resolution to the issue," he said.
Mehbooba had written a letter to separatists leaders in her capacity as PDP Chief inviting them to engage with the delegation.
Akhtar refused to reply to a question whether there were any back channel talks with Hurriyat Conference.
The state government has placed Chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference faction Mirwaiz Umer Farooq under arrest at Chashme Shahi sub-jail, JKLF Chief Yaseen Malik at BSF camp in Humama while hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani continues to be under house arrest.
A delegation of National Conference led by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is also likely to meet the MPs.
The all-party delegation is on a two-day visit to the state during which it is expected to interact with a cross section of people. However, the Valley based trade organisations have refused to meet the politicians.
"We intend to talk to individuals and groups who want peace and normalcy in Kashmir Valley," Singh said before the departure of the delegation.
Senior Congress leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the delegation was ready to hear "everyone".
The visit "will be beneficial for Kashmir and for the country," he said, adding everyone wants peace in the state.
Azad said it will be an opportunity for the parties and Kashmiri people to interact.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi said he would like to meet separatists as well as the injured who were undergoing treatment in various hospitals.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, another member of the team, said the all-party delegation should have gone two months ago "but let's hope that even now, we can make a difference". Yechury also expressed desire to meet the separatists and the injured.
LJP Chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that the MPs are going with an open mind and want to interact with anyone who wants to talk within the framework of the Indian Constitution. "We are ready to talk," he said.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said all parties were cooperating with the government and their sole aim was restoration of normalcy in the state.
"We will try our best to bring back normalcy. We are cooperating with the government. It is the responsibility of the government to deal with the situation very intelligently.
"All parties are cooperating for that. So we hope that it will be resolved," he said.