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10 injured in fresh violence in Kishtwar; Kashmir minister quits

Fresh clashes erupted today in curfew-clamped Kishtwar district in Jammu region leaving 10 people, including an Asistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), injured.

delhi Updated: Aug 12, 2013 22:41 IST
Kishtwar violence,Jammu and Kashmir goverment,Omar Abdullah

Fresh clashes erupted on Monday in curfew-clamped Kishtwar district in Jammu region leaving 10 people, including an Asistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), injured.

The trouble arose when police stopped protesters from marching to Hidyal area in Kishtwar in defiance of the curfew which remained in force for the fourth consecutive day.

The locals were protesting the arrest of a youth for his alleged involvement in communal violence in Kishtwar.

As clashes broke out, police swung batons and fired tear gas shells to bring the situation under control.

Eye-witnesses said they also fired in the air to disperse the protesters.

ASP Kulbir Singh and a Selection Grade Constable were among six people injured in the clashes.

Last night, four policemen were injured in Shalimar area in Kishtwar when unidentified persons attacked their vehicle and set it on fire, officials said.

The attackers also took away 10 wireless sets, they said.

"Ten miscreants have been arrested in connection with the Kishtwar violence and the process of further arrests is on," State's Home Commisioner Suresh Kumar told PTI.

The FIRs had been been registered and investigations were on, he said.

Curfew continued in 14 towns of 10 districts of Jammu region amid the heavy deployment of security personnel including Army.

Security personnel chase away protesters at a protest during curfew in Jammu. (PTI Photo)

Probe into violence
Chief minister Omar Abdullah, who identified the three people killed as "one Hindu and two Muslims", ordered a judicial inquiry headed by a retired High Court judge to establish the truth behind Friday's violence in the district that left three persons dead and 20 others injured.

"I have received Sajjad Kitchloo's resignation asking to be relieved of his responsibilities pending the outcome of the judicial inquiry. The resignation has been forwarded to governor NN Vohra for acceptance," Omar wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.

An official statement said later in the evening that the governor has accepted the resignation

Kitchloo, representative of National Conference from Kishtwar assembly constituency, was inducted into the cabinet early this year.

BJP and some Congress leaders had demanded that Kitchloo be removed pending an impartial inquiry on his alleged role in the riots in Kishtwar.

"My conscience does not allow me to continue as a minister till the probe ends," Kitchloo said, adding that he was resigning so that this presence does not cast a shadow on an independent probe.

Kitchloo, before announcing this resignation in a hurriedly-called press conference, also said: "I take strong exception to the remarks made by Arun Jaitley, leader of opposition in Raja Sabha. Did Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi resigned after Godhra riots? What happened to Amit Shah?"

Chief minister Omar Abdullah also latter tweeted "Would Jaitley be so kind as to inform Parliament whether the Gujarat home minister or MOS Home resigned or even offered to in 2002!"

Fresh violence

In fresh violence in Kishtwar, six police personnel and two civilians were injured in two separate incidents. Miscreants also also took away 40 rounds of INSAS rifles and eight radio wireless sets.

"Police personnel posted at Shalimar post, the entry point of the town, were coming back from a neighbouring town after having dinner late last night. A mob which was already waiting for them at the post assaulted the police personnel and took away their ammunition. Their vehicle was also torched," a police spokesperson said.

Another police team reached the spot and rescued the victims who are being treated in the district hospital.

Later in the day, residents of Haryal village, adjoining the town, protested against the detention of local youth. The protestors, including women, clashed with police, who fired in the air. Two police personnel and two civilians were injured in the skirmishes.

Activists of Muslim Khawateen Markaz shouting slogans during a protest march against the Kishtwar clash, at Residency Road in Srinagar. (PTI Photo)

Two motorcycles were also set ablaze by miscreants on the outskirts of the Jammu.

With tension flaring up once again, curfew continued in 14 towns of 10 districts except in Udhampur town where it was relaxed for one hour in the morning.

The chief minister chaired a meeting in the afternoon, where it was decided that an all-party delegation would visit Kishtwar after normalcy returns.

Durig the day, The Centre also asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to ensure peace by deploying adequate forces in all parts of the state.

In an advisory, the home ministry told the state government that the violence may spread to other parts and asked it to ensure that no such incident is repeated anywhere else.

Assuring all help, the Centre said that adequate forces should be deployed in all sensitive places to maintain law and order, official sources said.

The home ministry also said those indulging in violence should be brought to book and action should be initiated against them, they said.

Crackdown on separatists

Authorities also swooped on separatists in Kashmir valley to stop any snowballing of situation arising out of communal clashes in Jammu region since Friday.

The police disallowed hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani's to make an address through a scheduled press conference at his Srinagar residence. A huge deployment of police in Hyderpora area did not allow media persons to enter his house.

Separatist Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik, who was scheduled to carry out a peace march in Srinagar's Lal Chowk area, was also arrested by the police. "The police raided Malik's Maisuma residence this morning and took him along," said JKLF.

All separatists, including moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, have been placed under house arrest.

"It is the BJP and the village defence committees which are behind violence for political mileage," said Zaffar Akbar Bhat, a close aide of moderate Hurriyat chairman.

Meanwhile, there were reports of spontaneous shutdowns from south Kashmir's Pulwama district and north Kashmir's Bandipora district on Monday. Shops and business establishments remained closed in these districts. However, there was no report of violence from any part of the valley.

Kashmir observed two-day shutdown at the call of separatists against the Jammu violence.

Tension grips J&K

House on fire
The tension in Jammu and Kashmir permeated to the Parliament too as finance minister P Chidambaram and Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien differed over procedures, triggering a commotion and leading to stalling of the House for nearly an hour.

The row began at noon when Kurien called leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley to speak on the situation in Kishtwar.

Kurien called Jaitley after strong demands by BJP members earlier that he should be allowed to speak on the issue, particularly since he was not allowed to proceed to Kishtwar on Sunday.

Chidambaram, however, said he wanted to make a statement on the issue and insisted that he should be allowed first.

Kurien said that he had already asked Jaitley to speak and the finance minister could make the statement after him. He told Chidambaram that if had to make a statement, he should have intimated in advance.

At this Chidambaram remonstrated, saying, "This is a completely new practice. I must record by respectful protest."

Chidambaram's party colleagues including Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni and Satyavrat Chaturvedi backed him, asking the Chair to allow the government to make a statement on the issue first.

However, Kurien stuck to his guns, saying, "When I came here, I allowed the LoP. I had no intimation from the government. You should have intimated. I have allowed LoP. I stand by it."

Chidambaram, backed by his party colleagues, continued to express protest over the Chair's decision.

On the other hand, BJP members protested against the ruling party's objections to the Chair's decision. This led to an uproar, prompting Kurien to adjourn the House for half an hour.

Chidambaram did speak after Jaitley and maintained that the time was not right for the BJP leader to visit the area, and urged restraint from political leaders till the situation returns to normalcy.

"Two Muslims and a Hindu have died in the clashes. All of us are Indians. Three Indian lives have been lost and that is a matter of great regret," Chidambaram said.

"We will not allow a repetition of 1990. We will not allow forced migration. We will not allow forced resettlement. Everybody will be protected in the area in which he or she lives," he said. The exodus of Kashmiri pandits from the Valley started in 1990 soon after the outbreak of insurgency in the state.

Chidambaram's comments came after several members, including Jaitley, expressed fears that the violence in Jammu may lead to a situation similar to 1990. He made the statement as home minister Sushilkumar Shinde was unwell.

READ: All-party delegation to visit Kishtwar
READ: Omar trying to divide people on religion: PDP
READ: Omar mentions religion of Kishtwar victims, slams BJP
READ: Mayawati demands President's rule in Jammu and Kashmir
READ: Centre asks J-K to ensure peace by deploying adequate forces

First Published: Aug 12, 2013 21:48 IST