Major trade bodies of Kashmir skipped a meeting with Union home minister Rajnath Singh who arrived here on a two-day visit on Saturday, sixteen days after the killing of a militant leader sparked large-scale violence in the Valley.
Singh, who will hold a series of meetings with government officials and political leaders, is expected to soothe frayed nerves in the valley where at least 47 people have been killed in clashes between security forces and civilians protesting the killing of Burhan Wani, a 22-year-old militant leader.
Around 2,000 people including children as young as four have been injured, most of them by pellet guns, fanning allegations of excesses by security forces.
Singh landed in Srinagar at around noon, accompanied by a team of senior home ministry officials and directors-general (DGs) of central paramilitary forces. Government sources said that Singh met a few entrepreneurs, some owners of houseboats and common people on Saturday in a bid to reach out.
However, several trade bodies including the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) opted out of the meeting.
Trade body officials HT spoke to said they decided to stay away because in the past a number of such meetings have yielded no results and “killings of Kashmiris have continued”.
Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, president of the KCCI, accused security forces of human rights violation.
He said trade bodies have demanded that security officials should be made accountable for the killing of civilians and pellet guns banned.
“Zero steps have been taken by the government in the past, especially in 2010 when more than 100 young people were killed. Even had we met the home minister what could we have said apart from only one thing: please stop the killings,” said Ashraf Mir, president of the Federation of Commerce and Industry in Kashmir.
Rajnath Singh will chair a high-level security meeting besides one-on-one interaction with governor NN Vohra and chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.
The home minister, according to official sources, is likely to visit some areas in South Kashmir that have been worst hit by the ongoing cycle of violence.
Just before Singh landed, curfew was lifted from four districts of Kashmir and parts of Srinagar city on Saturday but remained in force in the rest of the Valley as a precautionary measure.
“Curfew has been lifted from Bandipora, Baramulla, Budgam and Ganderbal districts and some parts of Srinagar city in view of the improving situation in these areas,” a police official said.
With agency inputs