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Chidambaram, Jaitley face off in Parliament over Kishtwar violence in J-K

Members in Rajya Sabha today voiced concern over violence in Kishtwar area of Jammu and Kashmir with Opposition saying the country's "sovereignty and integrity" was at stake and the matter should not be dismissed as an inter-community clash. Armed forces have freedom to respond on LoC: Antony | 4th ceasefire violation by Pak

delhi Updated: Aug 12, 2013 22:51 IST

Members in Rajya Sabha on Monday voiced concern over violence in Kishtwar area of Jammu and Kashmir with Opposition saying the country's "sovereignty and integrity" was at stake and the matter should not be dismissed as an inter-community clash.

Initiating an impromptu debate in the House, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley alleged that the state government had failed to take appropriate measures to control the violence and warned that it should not be a repeat of 1990 when an entire minority community was compelled to leave Kashmir Valley.

"The violence in Kishtwar and adjoining areas involves the sovereignty and integrity of the country and should not be seen only as a clash between two communities," Jaitley said.

Comparing the events to the violence in 1990 in the Valley that had "compelled a community to leave", he said when the violence occurred last week, the state government officials had not taken enough measures to control the situation.

He said there are reports that a senior functionary of the government could be involved and demanded this aspect be probed.

"This incidence is not just an inter-community conflict," Jaitley said, adding that flags of another country were waved and pictures of a convict given death sentence displayed.

He sought to know why no arrest was made though hundreds of shops have been gutted and many people injured.

"People were crying out of helplessness," he said, adding, the situation was out of control due to which the injured could not be admitted to the civil hospital and were rushed to the military hospital.

Jaitley sought to know if the government was trying to impose censorship by not allowing him and other leaders to visit the area.

He recalled that in the past when such a situation arose then home minister Shivraj Patil and later his successor P Chidambaram had taken all-party delegations to help people exhaust their anger and calm down tempers but now an "iron curtain" has been imposed so that nobody enters the state.

Hitting out at the state government, Jaitley said the state of Jammu and Kashmir is not property of any one family.

He said India is not a "banana republic" where an indefinite order is issued under Section 144 banning a person from entering Jammu region.

Jaitley said, "Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India. We have to decide how to govern it...What if BJP-ruled state governments invoke section 144 to stop AICC members to enter the state...It is the issue of India's sovereignty." Questioning why people were not arrested, he demanded immediate corrective measures besides booking the guilty.

Participating in the debate, BSP chief mayawati sought imposition of President's Rule in Jammu & Kashmir for failure to check violence in Kishtwar area.

Seeking a high-level probe into the episode, she said, "home minister of the state remained silent on the episode. An FIR should be lodged against him and he should be jailed. If the government fails to lodge FIR, then President's Rule should be imposed by sacking the state government."

Expressing sadness and anguish over increasing violence in the Valley, she said son of BSP Kishtwar district president was shot dead and 17 bullets were fired on him to ensure he was dead.

She said state's home minister was at Kishtwar at the time of the incident but did not take any step to control the situation.

Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said, "It is with a deep sense of agony and anguish I point out that what happened in Kishtwar is not a localised law and order problem but something of a larger magnitude...Transgression on the Line of Control has increased. Militant's infiltration has increased."

Seeking Centre's intervention in the matter, he said it should be probed why laxity was shown by authorities there in controlling the situation.

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool) sought strong measures by central and state forces including deployment of armed forces to control the situation.

Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) said there was need to strengthen the armed forces in the area. At the same time, he said, he was not in favour of sacking the democratically elected government there.

KC Tyagi (JD-U) said the issue needed all seriousness claiming that militants would concentrate on Kashmir after the exit of US forces from Afghanistan next year.

He said about 80,000 youth have been missing from Valley for the past several years.

V Maitreyan (AIADMK) said the situation should be dealt with seriously as it was not a mere law and order situation.

TM Selvaganapathy (DMK) said peace was a mirage in Kashmir as all the neighbours were inimical and triggering instability in the region. Steps were needed to control the situation, he said.

Shashi Bhushan Behra (BJD), Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP) and Anil Desai (Shiv Sena) too demanded immediate steps to check the situation. Paswan said calling a Jammu Bandh on the issue would further deteriorate the situation.

Karan Singh (Cong) said the Centre should not "simply sit" on problems faced by Jammu and Kashmir. He suggested that the government should confront them and take "bold and creative decisions."

"Over last 40 years, there have been commissions, committees and interlocutors set up to deal with the complex issue. Despite all those commissions, no action has been taken. ...something must be done," he said.

He also said the House has not yet seen the report of interlocutors on J&K issue.

Stating that the country has lost half of the state, Singh called for a credible and high-level inquiry into the recent violence in Kishtwar and other places.

He said there had been undercurrent tensions in Kishtwar earlier also, but this time things are serious.

D Raja (CPI) said that Jammu and Kashmir is a sensitive state and the Centre should tread cautiously.

He agreed with BSP chief Mayawati's demand for an high-level inquiry into the issue.

Without naming any political party, Mohammad Shafi (CS& KNC) said the incident should not be viewed from a communal angle and it is important to know why such a situation has arisen just before 2014 general elections.

He said the country does not belong to one community.

Will not allow repeat of 1990 in J&K: Chidambaram
Insisting that the situation in violence-hit Jammu and Kashmir is under control, the Centre on Monday said it will extend all help to the state government in maintaining law and order and asserted that the repeat of forced migration witnessed in 1990 will not be allowed. Finance minister P Chidambaram, who made a statement in Rajya Sabha on behalf of indisposed home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, defended the decision of the state government not to allow BJP leader Arun Jaitley to visit Kishtwar town, the scene of communal violence. Read more...

Centre asks J-K to ensure peace by deploying adequate forces
In the wake of communal clashes in Kishtwar, the Centre has asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to ensure peace by deploying adequate forces in all parts of the state. Assuring all help, the Centre said that adequate forces should be deployed in all sensitive places to maintain law and order, official sources said. Read more...

'Speedy and credible' inquiry into Kishtwar violence: BJP
Condemning the state and central government for their "failure" to control the violence in Kishtwar, BJP on Monday demanded a "legitimate, speedy and credible" inquiry into the issue. He pointed out that there has been relentless shelling from Pakistani forces and in the midst of this separatists have incited violence in Kishtwar. The main Opposition insisted this is not a Hindu-Muslim clash but was a planned attack. Read more...

READ: Armed forces have freedom to respond on LoC: Antony

First Published: Aug 12, 2013 18:39 IST