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Fissures within J-K coalition govt as death toll rises

india Updated: Jun 28, 2010 20:09 IST
Peerzada Ashiq
Peerzada Ashiq
Hindustan Times
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First major differences within Jammu and Kashmir ruling coalition partners, the National Conference and the Congress, came to fore on Monday when a senior Congress leader attacked ruling party minister and asked the state police "to declare itself as being responsible for law and order of the state and not any paramilitary agencies".

The statement of the Congress leader, Saif-ud-Din Soz, who is also Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief, has come a day after ruling party leader and Law minister Ali Muhammad Sagar accused the CRPF of "going out of control due to lack of command control".

The minister, who organized a late-night press conference on Sunday, also claimed the CRPF was not listening to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and sought Union Home Minister P Chidambaram's help to rein in trigger-happy forces in the state.

"There are black sheep and bad elements within the CRPF ranks who engineer the killings of youth," said Sagar.

Questioning the statement of the minister, the coalition partner senior leader Soz said: "The veracity of the Minister's (Sagar) statement can be verified only when the J&K Police corroborates the assertion," said Soz.

He asked the J&K Police administration to declare "that it unequivocally is absolutely responsible for maintaining law and order in the state, especially in Kashmir where, unfortunately, civilian killings have become a routine".

Coming down heavily on NC leader Sagar, Soz said the senior minister's statement that CRPF was not obeying the orders of the government has not produced any positive results on the ground.

Soz said it is for the J&K Police to seek help from whatever quarters it needs.

"The persons responsible in the system to maintain peace must be appreciated…any attempt at blame game at this critical time will complicate matters further," he added.

The differences have come to the fore as the valley witnesses killing of seven civilians this month.

The state government finds itself helpless as it fails to stop the cycle of protests and killing in the state despite Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's repeated assurances of reining in forces and avoiding civilians' deaths in the state.

The helplessness was evident on Sunday evening when Sagar said: "Shall we fight with the Hurriyat, the militants or the CRPF? Even if we will manage to fight with these groups, we can't fight with the people who voted us to power".

The main opposition People's Democratic Party has criticized Abdullah for its failure to control situation.

"Omar Abdullah, it seems has descended on the state as a modern day Nero presiding over destruction and death," said PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.

She said the CM was trying to swamp the public opinion with too many deaths to dumb any response but the "awe and strike" operation has clearly boomeranged to give birth to a fresh cycle of anger and protest.

"The state is on the virtual catastrophe, which is taking toll of precious lives and a painstakingly built atmosphere of hope," she added.