Violence Spikes in Kashmir During Home Minister's Visit
SRINAGAR: Heightened violence marked the visit of the union home minister Rajnath Singh to Jammu and Kashmir which ended here Saturday.
Singh was on a two day visit to review the security preparedness following a surge in attacks on forces personnel in the Valley; the latest strike on June 25 near Pampore town resulted in the death of eight CRPF jawans.
According to an official statement, Singh "held discussions on varied issues relating to the future growth and development of the State" in a meeting with the Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra at Raj Bhawan in Srinagar.
Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti also attended the meeting along with the top brass of the state police, the Army as well as the state and central security agencies
According to well-placed sources, the home minister was briefed about the recent two attacks on forces along the strategic Srinagar-Jammu national highway between the 32 km long Pampore-Bijbehara stretch.
Sources said the home minister directed the security agencies to strengthen the composition of the road opening parties by "involving local police and the Army" in the mop-up operation preceding the passage of forces' convoys.
Singh also reviewed arrangements for the Amarnath yatra which commenced on Fridaymorning with the deputy chief minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, flagging off the first batch of 1282 pilgrims from Yatri Niwas in Jammu.
The home minister paid obeisance at the Amarnath cave yesterday.
The first day of the HM's visit saw heightened violence against security personnel and widespread pro-freedom and anti-India protests.
In central Kashmir's Budgam district, suspected militants fired at an assistant sub inspector of J&K Police outside a popular Sufi shrine in Pakharpora locality. A civilian was also wounded in the attack while the militants managed to escape.
Violent anti-India and pro-freedom protests were reported from parts of Kashmir, including the summer capital Srinagar where agitated youth pelted stones at forces in Nowhatta who retaliated with teargas and baton-charge.
The clashes continued for hours outside the historic Jamia Masjid where the moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq delivers sermon on Fridays.
In south Kashmir's Kulgam, a patrol of Army resorted to aerial firing to save themselves from violent locals of Hawoora village, a stronghold of Jama'at-i-Islami, who attacked them with stones.
In the adjoining Pulwama district, three CRPF men were wounded after militants opened fire and lobbed grenade at a unit of CRPF and J&K's police's SOG in Litter village on Friday evening.
A grenade was also lobbed at a police post in south Kashmir's Anantnag district. However, it exploded in the compound of the post with causing any damage. The Army also claimed to have foiled an infiltration bid in Kupwara.
The attacks pose a grave challenge to the security agencies in the state which has witnessed three decades of widespread bloodshed and excesses by forces, "There have been some incidents in the recent past, but our forces have contained the situation successfully. We have neutralised record number of militants this year so far,” Mr Singh said.
Asked about the freeze in relations with Pakistan following the Pathankot attack, the home minister said he is hopeful that relations between the two countries would improve in coming days.
“We have extended a helping hand by allowing a Pakistan team to visit Pathankot. So far, we have been shaking hands but we want our hearts should meet as well. There is no response from their (Pakistan) side on the issue of National Investigation Agency (NIA) team’s visit to Pakistan.”