Center's delegation briefed on situation in Jammu

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Jammu, Aug 9: The Centre's 18-member delegation, headed by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, was on Saturday, Aug 9 briefed on the situation in curfew-bound Jammu region, which is witnessing massive protests on Amarnath land row.

The all-party delegation, comprising five Union Ministers and leaders of various political parties, held a meeting with General Officer Commanding IX 'Rising Star' Corps Lt Gen Vinay Sharma, Divisional Commissioner Sudhandhu Pandey and IGP (Jammu Zone) K Rajendra, an official spokesperson told reporters outside the venue at Hari Niwas Palace. The delegation was apprised about the sensitivity of the situation and the ''religious sentiments'' attached to it.

The officers informed that over 1,100 people were taken into preventive custody during the past 40 days of agitation. It was also assured that the forces were keeping maximum restraint to tackle the situation. Meanwhile, the winter capital city was put under complete siege as a preventive measure to check any untoward incident during the visit of the high-profile delegation.

The civil administration also withdrew its order for three-hour curfew relaxation in the midnight and all routes leading to Raj Bhawan and Hari Niwas Palace were sealed by the security forces. Despite heavy deployment and curfew, hundreds of people attempted to approach the Raj Bhawan. ''Hundreds of protesters were blocked before Rehari Chowk and outer areas,'' a senior police official said.

The delegation had invited the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti (SAYSS), a conglomerate of several political and non-political parties, for talks, for holding talks to resolve the issue. However, hardening its stand on restoration of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board in south Kashmir, the Samiti yesterday extended Jammu bandh till August 14 and threatened to boycott the delegation if Dr Farooq Abdullah, Ms Mehbooba Mufti and Prof Soz join it.

''We welcome Centre's delegation but we will not hold dialogue with delegation comprising Dr Abdullah, Ms Mufti and Prof Soz,'' a Samiti spokesperson said. According to the Samiti, these leaders are the root cause of present situation in the state.

It was decided at an all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 6 to send a delegation to assess the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir. The delegation comprises Union Ministers Saifuddin Soz, Sriprakash Jaiswal, Prithviraj Chavan (all from Congress), Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD) and A Raja (DMK) while Arun Jaitley (BJP), Amar Singh (SP), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), D Raja (CPI), Mohsina Kidwai (Congress), Farooq Abdullah (NC), Mehbooba Mufti (PDP), K C Tyagi (JD-U), Naresh Gujral (SAD), Akhthar Hassan (BSP) and R C Paswan (LJP) will be the other members.

During its two-day tour, the delegation will visit both Jammu and Kashmir regions, the spokesperson said.

The curfew-bound Jammu is witnessing complete shutdown for the last 18 days as the agitation under the banner of the SAYSS completes 40 days.

UNI

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