Home minister Rajnath Singh reached Srinagar on Saturday to reach out to the state government and people as turmoil continues in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources said he reached at the Nehru guest house in Srinagar at around 12 noon.
Singh is the first high-profile political leader from the ruling NDA government to visit the state after the unrest that engulfed the Kashmir Valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
During his two-day stay, Singh will hold ‘meetings with different sections of the society’ there, said home ministry officials. The officials didn’t specify the number or composition of such delegations.
“He will meet representatives of political parties, social organisations and leading citizens to get their feedback about the situation,” said a home ministry official had told HT.
Singh will hold first meeting with chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and senior state officials to review law and order situation there.
His visit is also being considered important in the backdrop of the all-party meeting where a resolution to include “all stakeholders in dialogue for lasting peace’’ was adopted.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also hinted at a dialogue with the stakeholders, including separatists. However, whether the central government headed by right-wing BJP reaches out to separatists remains to be seen.
Kashmir continues to be on the edge as curfew, restrictions and separatists called shutdown continued for the 15th day on Saturday. At least 47 people from south Kashmir’s four districts have been killed in the ongoing protests after the killing of Wani in Kokernag on July 8 - making it the worst affected area in the current strife.
A man was killed in fresh clashes between protesters and security forces in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Friday. Ishtiyaq Ahmad, who was injured in clashes in Anantnag district a few days ago, also died at SKIMS hospital in Srinagar.
Over 2,000 people have also been injured in the last two weeks and more than 600 have pellet injuries and over 125 have been hit by bullets.
The widespread criticism following the use of the apparently “non-weapon’’ has forced the government to reconsider the use of pellet guns by security forces during crowd control. Singh informed Parliament on Thursday that a committee to look into the matter will be constituted soon.
According to reports, deputy inspector general of police (south Kashmir) Nitish Kumar and Anantnag senior superintendent of police Abdul Jabbar were transferred a day before Singh’s visit. While there is no official confirmation, sources suggest Kumar has been replaced by DIG central Kashmir GH Bhat and Jabbar by SSP (traffic rural) Zubair Ahmad.
All female separatist organisation Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) said on Friday that Singh’s visit “will have no impact on the ground situation of the state”.
“Indian home minister Rajnath Singh will get nothing from Kashmir till he addresses the core Kashmir issue. If he thinks Kashmir is a law and order problem then he is mistaken,” DeM said in a statement.
All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chairperson and valley’s top cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday criticised the continuous curfew and restrictions saying the situation has “created an emergency regarding essential commodities, baby food and medicines in the entire Valley’’.
Terming the on-going situation as “extremely serious and wrought with dangerous consequences”, Mirwaiz blamed the ruling regime and its agencies for this situation.