All-party team visits Kashmir hospitals, Hazratbal

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SRINAGAR - The all-party delegation from Delhi Tuesday visited the Hazratbal shrine and hospitals, continuing its assessment of the ground situation in Kashmir, even as curfew was in place in Srinagar and other major towns in the valley.

“Indefinite curfew continues in Srinagar city and other major towns of the valley. Curfew restrictions have continued following reports that the miscreants had planned to incite violence to coincide with the visit of the delegation,” a senior police officer said here.

The delegation is led by union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. Asaduddin Owaisi and Sushma Swaraj were among the members who visited the Hazratbal shrine. The Muslim shrine here is held sacred by many as it preserves what many believe to be a hair of Prophet Muhammad.

Some leaders from Delhi are also visiting hospitals, among them the bone and joint hospital here, to meet people injured during clashes with the security forces in 103 days of unrest in Kashmir Valley, during which 102 people have lost their lives.

Some members of the delegation Monday called on three prominent separatist leaders — Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik — despite their refusal to meet the Delhi leaders.

Interestingly, all the three separatist leaders refused to talk to delegation members even inside their houses and insisted it be done before the media.

The practice of speaking to the MPs only before the media was begun by hardline pro-Pakistani separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani and has been taken up by Mirwaiz Umer and Yasin Malik.

Geelani expressed inability to serve tea to his guests as he said there was no tea or milk in the house because of the indefinite curfew imposed by the authorities.

He also stuck to his five-point agenda which includes acceptance of Kashmir as an international dispute as the first and foremost demand before a dialogue can be started between New Delhi and local separatists.

The delegation also met representatives of trade, industry, tour and travel, tourism, transport, apple growers, NGOs, students from local universities, vice-chancellors and some prominent local writers and journalists.

Representatives of local Sikhs also called on the delegation Monday evening. A deputation of Gujjars and Bakerwals also met the team to discuss their problems in the state.

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