As Kishtwar burnt on Eid, J&K chief secretary Suresh Kumar and state DGP Ashok Prasad waited for hours at the Kishtwar helipad for a police escort.
Reason: Outnumbered by rioters, a column of army troops confined the then minister of state for home Sajjad Kitchloo and district administration officials to the Dak Bungalow.
Piecing together the chain of events that led to the arson in Kishtwar and affected other areas of Jammu reveals a total failure of police machinery. Even the best of efforts made by chief minister Omar Abdullah and acting home minister P Chidambaram, who managed to get army troops air-dropped at an altitude of 12,000 feet in Padder village near Kishtwar on August 11, failed to control the situation.
While Chidambaram gave orders for the air dropping on August 10 itself, the Mi-17 helicopter from Udhampur could not land at the village due to bad weather. The death of one person in Padder Tehsil and another three suffering pellet injuries, indicate that shotguns given to village defence committees had been used in the riots.
Abdullah had spoken to defence minister AK Antony to requisition army troops in Kishtwar on August 9 itself. The first column of 30 troops reported at around 12:30 pm at the Dak Bunglow where the Police brass alongwith Kitchloo had stayed put. To make matters worse, the administration with Kitchloo at the helm of affairs did not impose curfew despite arson and looting to avoid being accused of spoiling Eid festivities. Curfew was imposed and army deployed after troop reinforcements came in from a unit at Thathri, 35-40 km from Kishtwar at 5 pm.
Top government sources said the police machinery did not only fail in Kishtwar but also in Jammu where on August 10 the BJP, VHP and RSS workers indulged in stone-pelting all through the day in response to communal clashes on Eid. The first arrest of 11 persons in Kishtwar came 72 hours after carnage on August 12 and more than 24 hours after violent protests in Jammu. There was a stone-pelting incident by the minority community in Kishtwar on Monday despite curfew being imposed in the town.