JK Minister's "Peace Talks" With VHP Activists Sparks Controversy
SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir’s Health minister and senior BJP leader, Bali Bhagat, has landed in a controversy after meeting the activists of VHP, whose chief Praveen Togadia is banned from entering J&K, to "restore normalcy" in the restive Jammu city.
Bhagat, who holds charge of Health and Medical Education ministry in Jammu and Kashmir government, brokered a 'peace deal' with the activists of the Hindu rightwing groups who indulged in violence following the alleged desecration of a Shiv temple in Roopnagar area of Jammu.
According to reports, Bhagat met the leaders of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad in the 'City of Temples' on Wednesday and assured them "unconditional release" of 22 youth detained by police in connection with the violence reported in Janipur area late Tuesday night.
Three police personnel including the station house officer of Janipur police station were injured while two police buses were torched by the Hindu rightwing mobs in Jammu over the alleged desecration of the temple by a 'mentally deranged man'.
Senior National Conference leader, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said the 'lenient' view taken by the police in the case shows there are "two set of laws; one for Jammu and another for Kashmir Valley".
"While a reign of terror has been unleashed by police with even minor kids put behind bars in Kashmir Valley, by releasing the arsonists associated with Hindu rightwing groups, the Peoples Democratic Party has shown that it will go to any extent just to stay in power," Sagar said.
According to sources, Bhagat arrived in Jammu on Wednesday and convened a high level meeting with senior divisional and police officers to take stock of the law and order situation which was also attended by local leaders of VHP and RSS.
"The minister directed the district administration to unconditionally release the 22 activists of rightwing groups who were involved in fanning violence in Roopnagar area," sources said.
The Health Minister could not be reached for his comments, despite repeated attempts.
Meanwhile, mobile internet services, which remained suspended for two days, have been restored across 10 districts of Jammu region. Several shops and market places, which witnessed complete shutdown following incidents of violence, also opened on Thursday.