Fresh violence rocks Kashmir as toll mounts to 23; CM Mehbooba Mufti appeals for peace and normalcy
Clashes raged on in many parts of the Kashmir valley on Monday as young men armed with rocks defied prohibitory orders to hurl stones at police and paramilitary pickets.
Srinagar: Violence and arson continued unabated in Kashmir Valley for the third day on Sunday with normal life paralysed due to curfew-like restrictions and separatists-sponsored strike over the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Wani, 22, a new face of Kashmir’s separatist war, was shot dead with two of his associates in a south Kashmir village on Friday evening.
Fresh violence in Kashmir
Mobs torched a police station today in Sopore and targeted the Air Force airport in Pulwama along with other security installations in Kashmir. There was also no let up in stone pelting incidents.
"Two persons have died in an incident of violence in Kulgam district yesterday and have been identified as Feroze Ahmad Mir (22) and Khursheed Ahmad Mir (38)," a police official said.
With this, the death toll in the violence has gone up to 23, including a policeman. Around 250 people were also injured.
On the other hand, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval rushed home today from Kenya to join in efforts to defuse the turmoil.
Doval, who was rushed home 24 hours early by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in view of the tense situation in Kashmir, is regularly taking stock of the developments in the Valley with officials.
Doval was accompanying the PM on his four- nation tour of African countries - Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya. They were due to return home tomorrow.
"If there are problems, there are solutions. We are quite confident & competent of finding solutions," he told PTI when asked to comment on the situation in Kashmir.
Some elements hell-bent on fomenting trouble in Kashmir, says Mehbooba Mufti
Reacting to the situation, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said that some elements were hell-bent on fomenting trouble and mayhem in Kashmir for their vested interests playing with the lives of innocent youth by instigating them to indulge in violence "resulting in a vicious cycle of frenzy and bloodshed".
She sought whole-hearted cooperation of the people in restoration of peace and normalcy in the valley to prevent further loss of precious lives and destruction of public and private properties.
Without identifying anyone, the CM, who was interacting with civil society members, said while certain quarters are only interested in playing politics over the dead bodies of youth, it is the family members of these slain youth who have to live with this pain forever.
"It is only the parents and other immediate family members of these ill-fated youth who have to live with the life-long trauma of losing their near and dear ones to this senseless violence," she said.
Mehbooba said that the government was taking various measures to restore calm and it needs the support of the people in this endeavour.
"I appeal to all sections of the society including the political leaders, media, the religious heads, the business community and the prominent citizens to rise to the occasion and help the government in restoring peace and normalcy in the Kashmir in the wake of the prevailing law and order situation," Mehbooba said.
She added that the police and the paramilitary forces have been asked to exercise maximum restraint to avoid loss of lives or grievous injuries.
Pakistan needles India; MEA hits back
Amidst the tension in J&K, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif deplored 'excessive' force against civilians in the Valley while expressing 'deep shock' over the killing of Wani.
Sharif, who recently returned from London after an open-heart surgery, came out with a late night statement yesterday condemning the action of Indian security forces in Kashmir.
"The Prime Minister of Pakistan has expressed his deep shock at the killing of Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani and many other civilians by the Indian military and paramilitary forces," Sharif's office said in the statement.
He said it was "deplorable that excessive and unlawful force was used against the civilians" who were protesting against the killing of Wani.
"Oppressive measures such as these cannot deter the valiant people of Jammu and Kashmir from their demand of exercising their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions," he added.
Reacting sharply to Pakistan's comments, India today said it reflect its continued "attachment to terrorism and its usage as an instrument of State policy."
India also asked Pakistan to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbours.
"We have seen statements from Pakistan on the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. They reflect Pakistan's continued attachment to terrorism and its usage as an instrument of State policy. Pakistan is advised to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbours," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
PM Modi to chair high-level meeting tomorrow on J&K
Meanwhile, PM Modi will chair a high-level meeting tomorrow to review the situation in J&K. Ahead of the meeting, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today chaired a discussion with senior Union Ministers and officials during which it was suggested that security forces make 'judicious' use of force and ensure smooth movement of Amarnath pilgrims.
According to official sources, the PM, who will return from a four-nation tour of Africa early tomorrow, will be given a detailed presentation on the prevailing situation in Kashmir Valley.
(With Agency inputs)