Valley still locked in tension; Centre reaches out to Oppn

RSTV Bureau
Srinagar: Protesters throw stones on police amid tear smoke during a clash in Srinagar, July 10, 2016. Photo - PTI

Srinagar: Protesters throw stones on police amid tear smoke during a clash in Srinagar, July 10, 2016.
Photo – PTI

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reached out to Congress party President Sonia Gandhi taking up with her the current grim situation in Kashmir valley following the encounter killing of militant Burhan Wani. Besides Sonia Gandhi, Singh also spoke to other Opposition leaders on Monday, including former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

Capital city Srinagar and large parts of Southern Kashmir remains under curfew as the toll following violent clashes after Wani’s killing reached 23 on Monday. One policeman too has been killed as protestors targeted several police post and security vehicles in the course of violence.

22-year-old Wani, the commander of terror group Hizbul Mujahideen, had emerged as the poster boy of militancy, especially in southern Kashmir. While his killing has been termed a big success by the security agencies, it has sparked a new wave of protest in the valley. The reaction in the valley post Wani’s encounter killing has shaken the establishments – both in Srinagar and in New Delhi.

23 people have been killed in the clashes between protesters and security forces. There are reports that more than 300 people have been injured in the clashes, including more than 90 policemen.

FILE: File photo of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi.  Photo - PTI

FILE: File photo of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi.
Photo – PTI

Both the State and Central government are on their toes working to bring normalcy to the situation. Eight more companies (with 100 personnel each) of CRPF are being sent to Jammu and Kashmir. About 60 battalions (about 1000 personnel each) are already stationed in the state as part of counter insurgency grid.

Following his long phone call with CM Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday, the Union Home minister discussed with Sonia Gandhi and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah the efforts to bring back peace and normalcy in Kashmir Valley.

According to the official sources, Rajnath Singh’s discussions with Gandhi and Omar, who was the Chief Minister of the state between 2009 and 2015, are believed to be an attempt by the central government to take opposition leaders into confidence.

In a statement released on Monday, the Congress party chief said there can be no compromise on matters relating to national security even as she voiced anguish over the loss of lives in the clashes.

While, former CM Omar Abdullah had already assured support to the ruling dispensation asking Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to take the lead in showing the way.

While in the valley, normal life remained paralysed for the third straight day with curfew-like restrictions and separatists-sponsored strike. Mobile telephone network and mobile internet services has been suspended in the four districts of south Kashmir since Friday evening.

File Photo of most wanted Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani (R), who was killed during an encounter at Kokarnag area of Anantnag District of South Kashmir on Friday.

File Photo of most wanted Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani (R), who was killed during an encounter at Kokarnag area of Anantnag District of South Kashmir on Friday.

Authorities have strengthened the presence of security forces in vulnerable areas of the city and elsewhere in the Valley to contain the protests, a police official said.

Shops, private offices, business establishments and petrol pumps were shut, while government offices and banks witnessed thin attendance. Public transport was completely off the roads while private cars and auto-rickshaws were seen plying at few places. Also, Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE) have postponed the examinations due to the prevailing situation.

However, in between all this Amarnath Yatra has resumed partially. The religious pilgrimage was suspended on Saturday.

On the other hand, not taking anything to chance, authorities have put most of the separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, under the house arrest.

(With inputs from the Agencies)