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J&K administration will take call on lifting restrictions, allowing Rahul Gandhi's visit: Top official


NEW DELHI: The restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir on people's movement and communications were a trade-off between inconvenience and loss of life and any decision on lifting them will be taken by the local administration, a top government official said on Tuesday.

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.

"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.

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The official said this was not the first time restrictions were imposed in Jammu and Kashmir and a similar situation had existed in 2016, following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani. The separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference called 'hartals' for weeks.

"Restrictions have always been there in Valley. This is not that the restrictions were imposed for the first time. Hurriyat leaders have called 'hartals' for weeks together. Every other day, they call 'hartals'. This time the state administration has taken preemptive steps. Minimum violence and loss of lives. This is an extraordinary situation," the official explained.

Steps have been taken so that there is minimum inconvenience to people, that include ease of travel to hospitals, opening of markets and distribution of food at doorsteps.

"The whole effort is to bring normalcy as early as possible. However, any law and order decision should be best left to the local administration," the official said.

On the proposed visit of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to Kashmir Valley, the official said the Jammu and Kashmir administration will take a call on his visit as per the ground situation.

The official also dismissed the suggestion that this was the first time a state has been converted into a union territory, saying Mizoram was part of a state (Assam) and it was first made a UT and then converted into a full state.

He also said that October 31 has been fixed as the day for the two UTs - Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh - to come into existence as there should be a reasonable gap for orderly division of officers, distribution of assets etc.

Asked about the action taken against some Twitter handles which have been allegedly spreading anti-India content on Kashmir, the official said nobody will be allowed to have a free-run to spread fake news.

"We are taking action on whatever comes in our way," he said.

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