Eid violence in Kashmir, Omar blames Mirwaiz
For the first time in Kashmir's 22-year history of insurgency, Eid congregations turned into violent pro-freedom demonstrations. HT reports.india Updated: Sep 12, 2010 00:19 IST
For the first time in Kashmir's 22-year history of insurgency, Eid congregations turned into violent pro-freedom demonstrations.
A mob on Saturday set afire offices of the state power department and police crime branch, a guard-post and a police vehicle in the Lalchowk and Hazratbal shrine areas.
The administration blamed Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, leader of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, for stoking violence.
The Mirwaiz, addressing a congregation at the Eidgah, gave a call to march to Lalchowk, seven km away, for a 30-minute sit-in rally. Immediately after the rally, the mob went into the rampage.
"The Mirwaiz and (Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin) Malik sought permission for peaceful protests. We allowed them, but they have abused the trust and vitiated Eid," CM Omar Abdullah said.
He later told HT: "A close confidant of the Mirwaiz called my office, seeking permission for the march. I gave my consent as separatists have been complaining about political space."
Calling the charge baseless, the Mirwaiz said: "Nobody called the chief minister or his office. Actually, when I announced the march, even my own people did not know about it."
He told HT the violence was part of a large conspiracy.
"When thousands of people were marching, not a single stone was thrown. It was only after the sit-in that all hell broke loose. We condemned it at the spot."
However, underground separatist leader Masrat Alam Bhat was held directly responsible for leading the violence. He was reportedly present inside the Hazratbal shrine when the mob burnt down the guard post and the police vehicle outside the shrine.
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, a final decision on a Kashmir package remained caught in a debate within the government and the Congress as well on withdrawing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from select districts in the state.
Even the Cabinet Committee on Security meeting that Prime minister Manmohan Singh planned to hold during the week was postponed to Monday.
The Mirwaiz told the rally at Lalchowk: "No Eid package can help improve the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. I ask India to accept the disputed nature of Kashmir and the right to self-determination. The only way forward now is trilateral dialogue between Pakistan, India and the Kashmiris."