| Kashmiri women watch a procession from a rooftop in Srinagar. The procession was held to pay homage to those killed fighting the Dogra rulers in 1931. (AFP)
Srinagar, July 13: The government has ordered a halt to roadside frisking which has been commonplace since militancy hit the state 13 years ago.
“On my instructions, frequent frisking of people on roads has been stopped and the Jawahar tunnel on the Srinagar- Jammu national highway kept open till midnight to facilitate movement of the people,” Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said here today.
The chief minister made this disclosure while addressing a rally at the martyrs’ graveyard in downtown Srinagar. He was paying homage to those who died this day in 1931 while fighting the Dogra rulers to try and establish popular rule in the state.
Security forces in Kashmir have frequently used sudden stop-and-search operations since 1990 to halt what a police official termed “the movement of militants from one place to another”.
Sayeed said his government was committed to minimising people’s hardships and referred to measures taken during his eight months in power to ease the burden on the public.
The chief minister, whose healing touch policy has attracted a lot of attention, said he would never compromise on the “honour and dignity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.
Sayeed said separatist leaders had been allowed to express their views. He said Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yaseen Malik had been allowed to visit various places and meet people while Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani had been permitted to address a rally at Sopore in north Kashmir.
“We want a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem,” the chief minister said.
He added: “The worst sufferers of the tension between India and Pakistan have been the people of the state.”
Sayeed said: “The interests of the people will be kept uppermost while finding a solution. Our effort is to make Kashmir, so far a bone of contention between India and Pakistan, a bridge of friendship between the countries.”
The chief minister said India’s offer of friendship had been reciprocated by Pakistan and an atmosphere was developing in which the neighbours could resolve issues.
Stating that dialogue had pushed the gun to the background in Northern Ireland and West Asia, Sayeed appealed to gun-wielding youths to rethink and help in bringing about “a peaceful and lasting solution to the people’s grievances”.
Elsewhere, police arrested Shabir Ahmad Shah, chairman of the Democratic Freedom Party, and the liberation front vice-president, Javed Ahmad Mir, this morning. The leaders were trying to reach the martyr’s graveyard.
Police used batons to disperse the leaders’ procession and arrested 26 people. They were later taken to Rajbagh police station in uptown Srinagar.