A day after militants killed eight army jawans in the heart of Srinagar, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said such attacks will not deter the peace process in Kashmir.
The PM, who started his two-day visit to the state with a public rally in Kishtwar in Jammu on Tuesday, said his government will not let “terrorism survive”. Singh was accompanied by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and chief minister Omar Abdullah.
They later visited the soldiers injured in the attack — one of the deadliest since July 2008, when a landmine killed nine soldiers on the outskirts of Srinagar.
"I want to pay my tributes to the soldiers who laid down their lives,” Singh said in his speech after inaugurating the 850MW Rattle power project at Kishtwar.
Singh later reached the valley amid high security to release a R5 postal stamp in the memory of Kashmiri poet Mehjoor. He said Kashmir was a valley of great cultural history which needs to be taken to rest of the country.
However, the PM assured various delegations that the Centre is ready for a dialogue with all sections of Kashmiris. "We are ready to talk to everybody who shuns the gun,”
Singh told an NC team in Srinagar.
"The dialogue process is an all-inclusive process," he told a select group of mediapersons.
The visit is seen as important as Singh is the first high-profile leader to visit the valley post the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in Delhi's Tihar jail in February this year.
Meanwhile, life has come to a standstill in the valley. While separatist leaders have called for a shutdown to protest the visit, much of Srinagar has been put under curfew-like restrictions. Vehicular traffic has been restricted in parts of the old city.
Police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in strength across the region with additional checkpoints along major highways.
Officials, however, claimed there are no restrictions in place. "People are not coming out of their homes due to the separatist shutdown call," said Inspector General of Kashmir range AG Mir.