A Kashmiri student holds an iron rod as others throw stones at policemen as they clash in Srinagar on Monday.(AP)
A Kashmiri student holds an iron rod as others throw stones at policemen as they clash in Srinagar on Monday.(AP)

Kashmir on the boil: Rajnath, Doval take stock; Omar wants President’s rule

Home minister Rajnath Singh took stock of the Kashmir situation with NSA Ajit Doval even as students’ protests rocked the Valley on Monday.
By Agencies | New Delhi/Srinagar
UPDATED ON APR 19, 2017 10:11 PM IST

The Centre reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, considering various options including initiating peace talks to bring back normalcy in the restive Valley.

The meeting, chaired by Union home minister Rajnath Singh and attended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, among others, took stock of the prevailing situation in the state, which saw violence during the April 9 bypoll to Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.

The top brass was given a detailed presentation on the critical situation Kashmir was facing and the steps taken to restore normalcy, official sources said.

During the meeting it was discussed whether peace dialogue with any separatist groups wielding influence on the protesters could be initiated.

The home minister had already announced that the central government was ready for talks with anyone within the framework of the Constitution, an offer the separatists are not ready to accept.

However, the idea of dialogue hit a deadlock as no group could be identified in breaking the cycle of violence that has engulfed the Valley since July 8 last year when militant group Hizbul Mujahideen’s poster boy, Burhan Wani, was gunned down in an encounter in south Kashmir.

On Monday, Srinagar Police registered cases against security forces who used a civilian as a human shield to allegedly guard against stone pelters and in another incident gunned down a youth in the Batamaloo area of Srinagar.

The Valley, meanwhile, remained on the edge as thousands of college and school students protested against security forces for their action on students of Pulwama Degree College on Saturday, in which more than 50 students were injured.

Monday’s security meeting also discussed how to deal with the series of videos which portray security forces in a bad light. Sources said the authenticity of the videos are also a matter of serious question as many of them were posted in social media sites from Pakistan.

The security brass also discussed the reports of “deep planning” in Pakistan to vitiate the atmosphere in the Kashmir Valley and incite insurgents to target local police personnel and their families, the sources said.

Mehbooba takes stock

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, for her part, met governor NN Vohra at the Raj Bhavan in Srinagar and discussed law and order issues with him.

The governor and the CM also discussed the implementation of major development projects and the delays occurring due to frequent closure of the Udhampur-Banihal sector of the National Highway, an official spokesman said.

Omar’s salvo

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, however, demanded the dismissal of the PDP-BJP state government, seeking the imposition of governor’s rule in the militancy-hit state.

“In the present situation, there is only darkness around, nothing else. Situation is totally out of control. Despite such a situation in Kashmir valley, Mehbooba is sticking to the chief ministerial chair. Nothing is more shameless for her than this,” Omar told reporters.

He further said “the present government has failed to control the situation and till they (PDP-BJP) remain in power, the state will witness only destruction”.

Students on warpath

On Monday, students across the Valley boycotted classes to protest against the “highhandedness” of security forces. The call for protests was given by Kashmir University Students Union (KUSU) — a students’ body banned by the authorities — against the “brutality” perpetrated by government forces on students.

The ruling PDP-BJP coalition and opposition parties in Jammu and Kashmir condemned the use of force against students in different colleges of the state and demanded stern action against those responsible for such acts.

The ruling PDP convened an emergency meeting to discuss the situation, a party spokesman said.

He said party general secretary Nizamudin Bhat and other office bearers condemned the police action and intrusion into the academic institution.

Meanwhile, opposition Congress also condemned the use of force by the police on students of various colleges.

Stating that chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s government was “brutalising people under the garb of maintaining law and order”, J-K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) chief GA Mir termed the raining of shells on the students a gift of the CM to people of Kashmir.

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