Home Minister P. Chidambaram today said there was reliable intelligence that militants may have mingled with crowds and fired at security forces in Jammu and Kashmir where a "cycle of violence" has raged for more than 50 days.
"There have been instances where the security forces have been fired upon by someone in the protesting crowds. There is reliable intelligence that some armed militants may have mingled with the crowds and fired at the security forces," he said in a statement in the Lok Sabha on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
The minister, who expressed concern over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, expressed confidence that a possibility of reactivating the political process could be explored once peace was restored there.
"Once peace and order are restored, I am confident that we can explore the possibility of reactivating the political process that holds the key to the solution," Chidambaram said.
Urging all sections of people in Jammu and Kashmir to heed voices of reason and desist from violent protest, Chidambaram reminded the protesters that mindless violence and destruction of property will not lead to any solution.
"On the contrary, they will result in loss of lives and injuries to the protesters, an outcome that is entirely avoidable and that should be avoided at all costs," he said.
Underlining the government's policy on issues concerning Kashmir, Chidambaram said, "We recognise that the issues concerning Jammu and Kashmir are issues concerning our own people, and they have to be addressed through the political process and through a dialogue with all sections of the people of Jammu and Kashmir."
The minister appealed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to "end the cycle of violence" that has been continuing for the past more than 50 days.
"The central government deeply regrets the loss of lives in Jammu and Kashmir. Many of them were young men and children. I convey our deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased. Even while we regret these incidents, I would appeal to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to put an end to the current cycle of violence," Chidambaram said.
Making a special appeal to parents, the minister said, "Your children's safety and welfare is our paramount consideration, as it must be yours, and I would urge you to ensure that they do not join the violence."
The Kashmir Valley has been on the boil for 54 days due to violent protests against civilians being killed in firing by security forces. As many as 45 people have died and 180 injured in violence since June 11.
Chidambaram said there were 872 stone pelting incidents in June and July and 1,266 security personnel were injured in the last two months.
"It is my duty to point out that security forces conducted themselves with commendable restraint in a highly volatile situation. They have shown courage and fortitude," he said.
He also assured the house that adequate forces were available to the Kashmir government.
Chidambaram said the central government was behind the Omar Abdullah-led state government in its efforts aimed at restoring peace, holding dialogue and redressing grievances of all parts of Kashmir.
"On its part, the central government offers its full support to the state government in restoring law and order, holding a dialogue, redressing genuine grievances, accelerating development programmes, and ensuring equity, justice and honour for all sections of the people of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.