Tower attacks aimed at disturbing situation ahead of Amarnath Yatra: Jitendra Singh

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jun 04, 2015 21:53 IST

Union minister Jitendra Singh on Thursday said the attacks on telecommunication towers in Kashmir Valley were attempts by anti-national forces to disturb the situation ahead of the annual Amarnath Yatra which begins on July 2.

"Whenever the yatra starts, there is disturbance in the Valley," Singh, a minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office, said at a press conference in Jammu.

Singh said the Centre has asked the state government to take strict action against "such disruptive forces", but he also said some mainstream political parties were to blame for the situation.

"There is now a competitive political upmanship over such disturbance. Some people, to appease separatists, start it and then some mainstream parties also fall into the trap," Singh said during a press conference in Jammu.

Scoffs at Geelani's yatra warning

The state government is battling to restore telecommunication networks in summer capital Srinagar, besides north Kashmir's Baramulla and Kupwara districts, after a series of attacks on mobile towers and people associated with telecom companies. At least two people were killed in the attacks.

Police said they have restored functioning of more than half of the 1,058 towers that were affected, after many people whose compounds housed some of the towers shut the facilities due to the threat.

Separatists condemned the violence and Pakistan-based head of the militant alliance United Jehad Council, Syed Salahuddin, even issued a statement asking telecom operators to resume business.

The Amarnath Yatra, to the cave-shrine of Lord Shiva in the Himalayas, will last 59 days. Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani recently, as like in the past, warned the government to curtail the yatra period to a month, saying it affected the region's fragile ecology.

However, Jitendra Singh, who also held a press conference in Srinagar on Thursday, rubbished Geelani's warning and said the yatra can be conducted in the state "across the year" without any threat to the ecology.

The minister, who was in Srinagar to highlight the NDA government's achievements on completion of its one year in power, said the government possessed a geological survey that established that the yatra was no threat to the ecosystem.

"It is just that the pilgrimage takes place in the two auspicious months according to Hindu calendar," he added. The minister however could not provide more details about the survey.

Flood relief to state

Meanwhile, speaking on the relief package to the state for rehabilitation of flood victims, Singh said there was "no dearth of funds".

"The Centre has released and will continue to release money for rehabilitation," he added.

Giving figures, the minister said the state had asked for immediate assistance of `2,926 crore out of which `1,176 was already present with the state disaster relief fund.

The Centre had released `43 crore immediately, Singh said, adding that two installments of the central assistance of `94 crore for years 2014 and 2015 were also released so far.

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