Kashmir remains on edge as PM calls for peace
Rajth meets Islamic clerics, Mehbooba promises to probe cases of excessive use of force
Srigar/New Delhi, July 12: Prime Minister rendra Modi on Tuesday appealed for peace in Jammu and Kashmir where more than 30 people have been killed in widespread protests after the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani.
Modi chaired a high-level meeting in New Delhi and voiced concern over the incidents of violence in the Kashmir Valley, where curfew continued for a fourth consecutive day.
“Prime Minister has appealed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to maintain calm and peace so that normalcy returns and no innocent lives are disturbed,” Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh told reporters after the meeting.
The meeting was attended by Modi’s senior cabinet colleagues.
In Kashmir, amid curfew in most parts of the valley, the authorities grappled to control continuing violence that has also left nearly 1,400 people wounded, many seriously, in clashes between thousands of protesters and security forces.
Police said “strict curfew shall continue” almost all across the valley to prevent the spillover of street violence and counter-violence.
The protests erupted over the weekend after security killed the 22-year-old commander of Kashmir’s largest rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen, and his two associates in a south Kashmir village on Friday.
On Tuesday, Amir zir Latoo, who was injured in firing at Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s hometown in Bijbehara, succumbed to injuries at a hospital in Srigar, doctors said.
The latest death took the toll to 33, including a police driver, who was drowned by an angry mob in the Jhelum river near Sangam village.
All business and other aspects of normal life remained completely paralysed. Mobile internet facility remained cut off across the valley and cell phone operations in south Kashmir’s Shopian, Antg, Kulgam and Pulwama districts also remained suspended.
Train services were also suspended for a fourth day as protesters damaged railway tracks at many places in south Kashmir.
There was an eerie calm on Srigar’s deserted streets, with no reports of fresh protests in the state capital.
However, police sources said protests erupted at a “couple of places” in south Kashmir. The dead militant commander belonged to this region.
In north Kashmir Sopore town, gunmen fired upon a police patrol but “no one was injured in the attack”, a police officer told IANS.
Separatist groups have extended the ongoing protest shutdown in the valley until Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the annual Amaranth Hindu pilgrimage that resumed on Monday after remaining suspended for two days continued as some 300 vehicles carrying pilgrims from different states of India entered the Kashmir Valley on Monday night.
“All the yatris have safety reached the Baltal base camp (in north Kashmir) and are now proceeding towards the cave shrine in regulated batches,” said an official of the Shri Amarthji Shrine Board (SASB) that mages the affairs of the annual pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Rajth Singh on Tuesday met with a group of Muslim clerics, who discussed with him ways and means to restore normalcy in the Kashmir Valley, which is in turmoil following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani last week.
Mehbooba asks civil society to help restore peace
In Srigar, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti urged civil society, religious groups and the media to help restore peace in Kashmir Valley. After security forces killed over 30 people in the aftermath of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing, the Peoples Democratic Party chief also said that inquiry would be done in cases were security forces “have used extra force causing deaths”. “I will ensure that a fair enquiry is done,” she added. (IANS)