Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the security situation of Jammu-Kashmir as he arrived in Srinagar on Tuesday amidst vain attempts by Hurriyat leaders to march to the Lal Chowk in the town to protest against killing of seven civilians in an explosion at an encounter spot in Kulgam on Sunday.
Top Hurriyat leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik were taken into custody as they defied restrictions and tried to march towards Lal Chowk for which a call had been given by Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Rajnath arrived in Srinagar to review the overall security situation in view of heightened terrorism. Before leaving for Srinagar, Rajnath tweeted: “Heading to Srinagar on a day-long visit to Jammu & Kashmir. Shall review the security situation and important initiatives taken in the state.”
The Home Minister held high-level discussions regarding the security scenario with Governor Satya Pal Malik and top brass of the Army, central and state intelligence agencies.
Former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti also called on the Home Minister.
The PDP chief urged the Centre to resume dialogue with Pakistan so as to end the present phase of violence.
Expressing concern over the prevailing situation in the state, Mufti urged the Home Minister to ensure that civilian killings and collateral damage during security operations are avoided.
An official spokesman said that Singh talked about security management, implementation of development programmes and positive engagement of the youth in the State during his meeting with the Governor.
The Governor assured the Home Minister that the State Administration is taking every step required to ensure against any delay in the implementation of development schemes and welfare programmes, eradication of corruption, and redressal of public grievances.
The Home Minister, in turn, congratulated the Governor on the peaceful conduct of polling during the recently held Urban Local Body elections besides assuring full support for the ensuing Panchayat elections.
This was Rajnath’s first visit to the Valley after the election results of municipal bodies.
Separatists fail to march to Lal Chowk
The separatists and various other political parties made a vain bid to march to the Lal Chowk to protest against civilian killings in Kulgam.
The Army and police have made it clear that the deaths were due to an unexploded shell which went off before the forces could sanitise the encounter spot where three heavily-armed terrorists were killed.
Yasin Malik had reportedly gone underground for the past two days in his attempt to give a surprise to the security forces on Tuesday by reaching Lal Chowk. But he was taken into custody this morning.
MLA Ali Mohammad Sagar led a procession of National Conference activists. The Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation also organised a protest.
All schools and colleges in Kashmir were closed by the authorities as a precautionary measure. Train services were also suspended in the valley. Most roads in Srinagar were blocked with barricades and barbed wire to thwart the march to Lal Chowk. The police issued an advisory to motorists to use alternate roads.
Meanwhile, the Hurriyat leaders have asked the people to march to Kulgam on Wednesday to pay homage to the killed civilians. They have also called for another shutdown on 27 October.
Home Minister announces ex gratia
Rajnath Singh announced an ex gratia Rs 5 lakhs to kin of each of the seven civilians who were killed in the explosion in Kulgam on Sunday.
Rajnath said that the centre was committed towards a peaceful and prosperous J-K adding that there has been a major shift in the security situation in the last four months when Governor’s rule was imposed in the state.
Incidents of stone pelting have decreased and recruitment of militants has also fallen.