With Kashmir on the edge, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has postponed his visit to the United States to attend the Indo-US Homeland Security Dialogue scheduled for next week.
Clashes between protesters and security forces in Kashmir mounted to 23, and normal life remained paralysed in the Valley due to curfew-like restrictions and separatists-sponsored strike in the wake of Wani’s killing in an encounter earlier on July 8.
A Home Ministry official cited the busy schedule during the coming Monsoon session of Parliament beginning July 18 as the reason for the deferment of the visit. However, tension in Kashmir Valley in the wake of killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen militant Burhan Wani could be the other key factor for the postponement of the Home Minister’s five-day visit to America, sources said. New dates have not been fixed but the trip now may take place sometime in September, the official said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday chair eda high level meeting to review the situation in the Kashmir Valley.
Prime Minister Modi, who returned from his four-nation five-day tour of Africa on Tuesday, will reportedly be given a detailed presentation on the situation in the Kashmir Valley.
Rajnath Singh on Monday held a high-level meeting with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and others on the Kashmir situation, an official source said. Doval returned after cutting short his visit to Kenya to join in the efforts to defuse the volatile situation in the valley. Rajnath, along with his team of ministers and officials, also kept a “close watch” on the Kashmir situation during the day.
Doval had accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his tour of Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya. The NSA was to return along with Modi on Tuesday morning but cut short his visit.
Earlier on Monday Rajnath Singh reached out to various political leaders, including Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, and discussed the prevailing situation in Kashmir. The minister expressed confidence that normalcy will soon return to the state.
Restrictions on the movement of people in Srinagar and four districts of south Kashmir, which were imposed in the wake of killing of Wani and the ensuing deadly violence, remained in force on Tuesday in order to maintain law and order in the Valley.
The Separatist groups, meanwhile, extended their strike call in Jammu and Kashmir by two more days. Kashmir has been on a boil as widespread protests broke out across the valley over Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing. Separatists’ have been calling for a shutdown ever since.
Across Kashmir, roads remained empty and shops shuttered but confrontations continued despite a round-the-clock curfew in most of the Valley.
Private offices, business establishments and petrol pumps remained shut, while government offices and banks witnessed thin attendance, the officials said.
Public transport was completely off the roads for the fourth consecutive day, while private cars and auto-rickshaws were seen plying at few places in the areas where there were no restrictions.
Educational institutions in the valley were closed on account of the ongoing summer vacations, while Central University of Kashmir (CUK), Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) and Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE) have postponed the examinations due to the prevailing situation.
With inputs from PTI