SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti accused China of "meddling in our affairs", days after a Chinese expert warned that the Army of a "third country" could enter Kashmir on Pakistan's request.

“Foreign powers are behind the attacks that are taking place in Kashmir. Now even China has started meddling in our affairs,” Mufti said after meeting the union home minister Rajnath Singh at the latter's residence in the national capital.

Her remarks assume significance in the wake of a standoff between India and China in Doklam region of Bhutan after the Indian army objected to the construction of a road there by the Chinese which sparked off a war of words between the two countries.

Insisting for a political resolution to Kashmir problem, Mehbooba said that the agitation in the valley is not a law and order problem and all political parties must come on board to resolve the issue.

“The war we are fighting in Kashmir isn’t a law and order problem. We can’t win in the given situation unless different political parties and the entire country supports us,” she told reporters after meeting the home minister.

Earlier, during her meeting, Mehbooba discussed the security situation in Kashmir with the home minister. Sources said the two also discussed the recent terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims in Anantnag district and the steps taken by the state government and security agencies to prevent such incidents.

"The overall security situation and some developmental works undertaken by the state government came up for discussion during the meeting that last for nearly 40 minutes," sources said.

Sources said Mehbooba, who promised "swift action" against the perpetrators of Amarnath attack, told Rajnath Singh that the suspects involved in the strike have been identified and police and other agencies are on a hot trail.

The J&K Police has formed a Special Investigation Team to inquire into the incident in Botengo area of Anantnag district where a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims came under cross-fire between suspected militants and security forces.

Seven pilgrims from Gujarat and Maharashtra were killed in the attack while nearly 30 pilgrims suffered injuries. The driver of the bus, Salim Shaikh, who acted promptly and continued driving the bus through a hail of bullets, has been given a cash award of Rs 3 lakh by the J&K government.

The J&K Police's SIT has so far detained Touseef Ahmad, a driver of the security wing of the Jammu and Kashmir police, for questioning earlier this week. According to reports, he was questioned in "militancy related case" and he has not been formally arrested.

Touseef was presently working as the official driver of Aijaz Ahmad Mir, a PDP MLA from Wachi constituency of south Kashmir, where militancy has increased manifold since the last two years. "I never found anything suspicious about him," Mir told The Citizen.

"He was called up for questioning and he is cooperating in an ongoing investigation in a militancy related case. That is all I will be able to comment on the ongoing investigation," Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar, SP Shopian, told The Citizen.

Police has identified Abu Ismail, a Pakistan national, as the main perpetrator who is believed to have been joined by three to four associates at the time of the attack. All belong to Lashkar-e-Toiba group which has blamed "Indian agencies" for targeting the pilgrims.

Meanwhile, clashes are continuing the the site of an encounter in Tral area of south Kashmir where two suspected militants, believed to be affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammad, have been reportedly killed so far. Their bodies have not been retrieved.

Locals of Tral and adjoining areas rushed to the site of encounter situated in a forested area and pelted stones at security forces who laid siege around the area as more militants are believed to be hiding there.

Witnesses said forces responded by firing teargas shells and clashes were going on when this report was filed.

(Cover Photograph BASIT ZARGAR)