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Learning from mistake, Centre sends PC

delhi Updated: Jun 09, 2009 23:23 IST
HT Political Bureau
HT Political Bureau
Hindustan Times
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It's been a year since the agitation in Kashmir over the transfer of forestland to the Amarnath Shrine Board. That issue has since died down. But separatists in the Valley are attempting a repeat — this time over the death of two women.

The Centre, for its part, is anxious not to repeat the mistakes it made last summer. With the public and separatists taking to the streets to protest the rape and murder of the two women, allegedly by security forces, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram will leave for Srinagar on Thursday.

Chidambaram’s visit, his first to J&K, is aimed at getting first-hand knowledge of the ground situation and send a reassuring message that the guilty will be punished.

When the Hurriyat Conference — a conglomerate of separatist organizations — had hit the streets last summer to protest the government’s move to transfer 40 hectares of land to the shrine board, it had taken the Centre nearly two months to send its then home minister Shivraj Patil. Government officials had then said they didn’t want to be seen as intervening. But everywhere he went, Patil had to face uncomfortable questions on why it had taken him so long to get there.

It’s been over a week since Nelofar (23) and Asiya (17) were found in a stream in Shopian, 60 km from Srinagar. The CRPF is the immediate target since its camp is close to the place where the bodies were recovered. A rape and murder case has been registered and a judicial probe is on.

“The inquiry shouldn’t just be for the sake of it. The guilty should be exposed, punished,” said Hurriyat spokesman Salim Gilani from J&K.

But home ministry officials said their assessment indicated things weren’t as bad as they appeared. “The reports we’ve received indicate there’s still not as much ground support as is being made out,” an official said.