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Centre should be given time to bring normalcy in J-K:SC; restrictions eased in phased manner, officials

twitter-logoPTI | August 13, 2019 | Updated 19:32 IST

(Eds: combining related stories) Srinagar/New Delhi, Aug 13 (PTI) As authorities said restrictions in Kashmir Valley are being eased in a phased manner, the Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that the Centre should be given a "reasonable time" to bring normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir which cannot be done "overnight" in view of the sensitive situation. The apex court at the same time refused to pass any immediate order to the Centre to lift restrictions imposed on people's movement and telecom links after revocation of provisions of Article 370 taking away the special status of the border state and bifurcating it into two union territories--Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. In Delhi, a a top government official said the restrictions were a trade-off between inconvenience and loss of life and any decision on lifting them will be taken by the local administration. The Jammu and Kashmir administration also moved to hold a three-day global investors summit in Srinagar from October 12, in a move to woo investors. The summit will provide an opportunity to showcase strengths and potential of Jammu and Kashmir, Principal Secretary Industries Naveen Choudhary told reporters in Jammu. A three judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said it is to be ensured that no life was lost in Jammu and Kashmir and posted a petition for futher hearing after two weeks, saying it will wait for normalcy to return. The petition filed by Congress activist Tehseen Poonawalla sought removal of the restrictions. "An individual has come to the court. The situation is very sensitive. Given the seriousness of the situation, the law and order restrictions have been imposed," the court said. "Nothing can be done overnight. There are serious issues. Normalcy would return and we expect it will come with time. What is important is it has to be ensured that no life is lost," it observed. Observing that it has to look into all the pros and cons of the matter before the court, it said "reasonable time should be given to the government to ensure normalcy returns in the state". During the hearing, it also said the situation is such that nobody knows what exactly is happening in the state. Rohit Kansal, principal secretary and the designated spokesperson of the state administration, said the restrictions in parts of Kashmir are being eased in a phased manner based on the assessment by the local authorities concerned. Kansal said the administration is hopeful of further relaxation in the security clampdown after the dress rehearsal for the Independence Day celebrations on August 15 concludes in various districts. He said while prohibitory conditions were relaxed in various parts of Kashmir, the Jammu region was "almost entirely" free of restrictions. "Restrictions, however, do continue in parts of Kashmir," he added. Kansal said the administration was following the overall policy of "relaxation" of restrictions in all parts of the state and the Eid al-Adha celebrations and prayers were peaceful. "There is a constant endeavour to ensure that people are not obstructed and are facilitated in every possible way". The principal secretary said the administration is hopeful that the Independence Day celebrations will be carried out in a "grand and benefitting manner" in all parts of the state. On the issue of snapped telecom links, Kansal said 300 public points have been set up for the locals, from where they can speak to their kith and kin. Over 5,000 calls were made in one day, he said. He added that medical services of all kind are continuing "normally and unhindered" and apprehensions in this context are not true. Political leaders like former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who were arrested as a "precautionary measure", will be released by the Jammu and Kashmir administration only after assessing the ground situation, said a Delhi-based official. "If the trade-off is between inconvenience and loss of life, if the trade-off is between peddling fake news leading to loss of life and people's inconvenience, what should we choose? "However, the administration is mindful of the difficulties being faced by people and trying to minimise the inconvenience. Any such decision will be taken by the local administration," the official said. The official said this was not the first time restrictions were imposed in Jammu and Kashmir and a similar situation existed in 2016, following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani. The separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference called 'hartals' for weeks. Following the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, the Election Commission (EC) held informal discussions in Delhi on the latest developments. The poll panel is also learnt to have discussed the proposed delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir, where Assembly elections are due. EC sources said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is yet to formally write to the poll panel on the issue of reorganisation of the state and the delimitation exercise as per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act.PTI MNL ABA RKS LLP SA CPS NES AB DIV NAB ACB GSN GSN GSN

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