Situation in Kashmir `grave`: Chidambaram

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday admitted that situation in J&K had taken a serious turn.

Updated: Aug 02, 2010, 14:35 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: As tension flared up in Jammu & Kashmir, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday admitted that situation in violence-hit state has taken a serious turn, and assured that immediate remedial measures will be taken to improve the situation.

"Jammu and Kashmir is a very sensitive state. Over the last few days the situation has taken a serious turn. After July 9 there was lull in the situation but it has again become grave," Chidambaram told the Lok Sabha, after Opposition members expressed their concern over the worsening situation in the Kashmir Valley.

"The Chief Minister is in Delhi. I have had many discussions with him over the last few week s. There will be more discussions. If it is possible I will come back to the House today (to make a statement after meeting Omar Abdullah) and or I shall do it as early as possible," the Home Minister said.

Chidambaram’s reply came in response to the Opposition’s demand for a statement from the Home Minister on the issue and the steps taken by Centre to improve the situation there.

Raising the issue in Lok Sabha, senior BJP leader LK Advani said, “No steps have been taken by the Centre to address the Kashmir issue, so we want the Home Minister to reply to our queries regarding situation in J&K.”

Meanwhile, curfew remained in force in the entire Kashmir Valley on Monday which has been hit by a fresh wave of violence since Friday.

One person identified as Tariq Ahmed, who was hit by a teargas shell three days back in Bijbehara in south Kashmir, succumbed to his injuries last night, police sources said.

With his death, the total number of people who died in the Valley since Friday has gone up to 15 which includes eight persons who were killed in separate incidents yesterday.

Security forces maintained a tight vigil across all the ten districts in Kashmir to maintain law and order, the sources said.

In New Delhi, the Cabinet Committee on Security(CCS) had met last night for the second time in a month to take stock of the situation.

J&K Chief Minister has appealed for calm and asked political parties and leaders to cooperate with the Government for return of peace in the state. He has vowed to deal sternly with law breakers and the perpetrators of violence, asserting that he will not allow them "to win".

Among those killed in protests yesterday were four civilians who had died when a mob last night set afire a police station, where explosives and a LPG cylinder were kept, triggering a massive blast in Khrew area on outskirts of Srinagar city. A fifth person succumbed to injuries later in the night while another was in a very critical condition, police had said.

A mob had also laid siege to the police station, 20 kms from here, and started pelting stones after which additional forces were rushed to the area who rescued the police personnel in the police station. Army personnel were involved in the rescue work.
Protesters had also attempted to set afire a police post in Khrew and take away the weapons. As the crowd refused to calm down, police fired at them leading to the death of a woman identified as Afrosa.

In other incidents, two persons were killed as police opened fire to disperse mobs who blocked a national highway on the city outskirts.

The situation in saffron-rich area of Pampore turned ugly when agitators blocked NH-1A at a number of places by erecting barricades from Pantha Chowk to Pampore, a police spokesman had said.
The mobs blocked the highway at Galandar, Kadlabal, Barsoo, Frastabal and Pampore and also torched office-cum- residence of a tehsildar. They set afire a police vehicle and damaged several others.

The protesters snatched weapons from local court guards and also indulged in heavy stone pelting on a police station and security personnel, the spokesman had said, adding the situation turned worse when suspected terrorists fired on the personnel from amongst them.