Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the moderate Hurriyat, has been shifted to the Chashm Shahi huts, designated as a sub-jail, amid speculation that the government may initiate talks with his separatist faction. 

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has herself indicated that while the hardline Hurriyat is not interested in a dialogue, talks may be held with moderate separatist leaders like Mirwaiz and Yasin Malik. Shifting Mirwaiz, so far under house arrest, to the highly guarded huts gives credence to reports that government intermediaries may meet him for talks.

Meanwhile, in a precautionary measure to thwart the separatists’ call for a procession to gherao 15 Core headquarters of the Army, the authorities in Srinagar have clamped a strict curfew. Unrest continues in the Kashmir valley with another youth killed during a CRPF firing in Pulwama and more than 300 injured throughout Kashmir in fresh clashes with the security forces. People continue to defy curfew, which entered its 50th day on Saturday, despite J&K police’s appeal to youths to stay away from processions. The J&K police personnel are said to be under pressure to resign, as on Saturday morning one police official was killed at Quel village of Pulwama by militants. Huge pro-freedom rallies were held in South Kashmir villages, which were followed by resignations from dozens of political workers belonging to mainstream political parties.

CM Mehbooba, after her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stepped up her attack on Pakistan, accusing the neighbouring country of instigating violence. She said it was now Pakistan’s turn to respond to the peace initiatives of India, while urging that country to stop meddling in Kashmir. She appealed to all in Kashmir, including the media, to give her time to settle down and deliver. She asserted that her government with the backing of the Centre would resolve the present crisis. 

Mehbooba Mufti, who is under extreme pressure from the Union Home Ministry to crack down on protesters on a massive scale, has indicated that she would deal toughly with violence mongers. 

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