Rajnath Singh Arrives In Srinagar to Fresh Clashes, Youth Killed
SRINAGAR: As Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Jammu and Kashmir capital Srinagar to hold talks with politicians and civil society for finding solution to present crisis in the Valley, a youth was killed in fresh firing by forces in Pulwama district.
Amir Gul Mir was critically injured when forces fired at protestors in Prichoo area of Pulwama, an attendant who was accompanying the slain youth to Srinagar hospital, said. The clashes had erupted in the area this morning, after the government forces had tried to prevent a “pro-freedom rally” there.
More than 40 persons have been injured in the clashes between protestors and government forces in the district with fresh incidents of violence breaking out in other parts of the Valley where curfew and restrictions remain in place on 47th consecutive day as home minister arrived, in a bid center to restore normalcy in Kashmir.
According to reports in Delhi-based media, Singh is expected to meet the political leadership and civil society during his two-day visit to the valley where over 67 civilian protesters have been killed in retaliatory action against protesters by security forces.
The union minister arrived at Srinagar airport at 11.30 a.m. in a special plane. “I will be staying at the Nehru Guest House. Those who believe in Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat are welcome. Shall interact with civil society groups, political parties and other stakeholders," he said in a series of tweets.
Singh's visit comes after a series of meetings of J&K's opposition leaders, led by former chief minister Omar Abdullah, with President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
In their meetings, the opposition leaders submitted separate memorandums, urging the Centre to start a dialogue with all stakeholders for resolving the political issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
In the run up to the home minister's visit, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has also urged New Delhi to reach out to people of Jammu and Kashmir through "substantive political and economic measures" which will address "anger and alienation and find a lasting solution to the problems confronting" the state.
“The prevailing painful situation in Kashmir necessitates reaching out to all shades of the political opinion in the State and initiating substantive political and economic measures to revive and consolidate the peace and resolution process,” the chief minister said in Jammu yesterday,
Fresh incidents of violence have broken out in the alley including in the summer capital Srinagar where government forces opened fire in Batmaloo locality and allegedly resorted to beating people, including women, who had gone out to buy essentials in wee hours of Wednesday.
Protests also broke out in Safa Kadal locality where forces beat up motorcycle-borne youths. Witnesses said one of the injured youth, who was hit in the head, was shifted to SMHS hospital.
In south Kashmir, which has been the centre of anti-India and pro-freedom protests following the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani, clashes erupted in Pulwama where forces allegedly vandalised the venue of a rally scheduled to be held against the civilian killings.
A senior police officer said strict curfew has been imposed in Pulwama following the clashes. According to witnesses, dozens of youths were injured, three of whom have been shifted to SMHS hospital in Srinagar with critical injuries.
"Curfew will remain in place in parts of Kashmir where miscreants have resorted to stone pelting. Although isolated incidents of violence have been reported from some areas, the situation remains under control," the officer said.
Meanwhile, hitting out at the chief minister for her remarks that only five percent people are involved in the prevailing uprising, veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani led conjoined Hurriyat said India should hold a referendum in the state.
“If your 5% equation is to be believed then you better convey to your masters in Delhi that it is high time to hold referendum as 95% are with us, but you yourself know that it is a bluff and big joke," the amalgam said in a statement yesterday.
(Cover Photograph Basit Zargar: People pour out to join the funeral procession of the youth killed in Pulwama)