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Tense Omar dials Delhi

The Central Reserve Police Force is turning out to be a bone in the flesh for the government of Jammu & Kashmir. On Sunday, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had spoken to Home Minister P Chidambaram and expressed concern at the deaths of civilians at the hands of the central police organisation in the valley. Toufiq Rashid reports.
By Toufiq Rashid | Hindustan Times, Srinagar
UPDATED ON JUN 28, 2010 11:11 PM IST

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is turning out to be a bone in the flesh for the government of Jammu & Kashmir.

On Sunday, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had spoken to Home Minister P Chidambaram and expressed concern at the deaths of civilians at the hands of the central police organisation in the valley.

Eight persons died in Kashmir in police/paramilitary action in the past 15 days.

While last week Abdullah had ordered a massive reshuffle in the police department following the deaths, the administration has no such powers when it comes to the central forces. Hence he has sought New Delhi's help to bring an end "to the cycle of deaths".

J&K Law Minister and senior National Conference leader Ali Muhammad Sagar told the media: "New Delhi will have to listen to us if it has to protect its interests in Jammu and Kashmir. Five youth were killed in a series and it is not a good thing. We are not ready to tolerate human rights violations."

He said the CRPF had lost command and control and the issue must be looked into.

"The CM, as head of the Unified Command Council, has given clear directions to the forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir to exercise restraint and protect human rights. All this (killing) is happening despite the directives. They (CRPF) are working against the interests of country. It will have dangerous ramifications," Sagar said.

"Only yesterday (Sunday) the chief minister ordered the constitution of a commission, headed by the State Human Rights Commission chairperson, to probe the killing of two civilians in Sopore last Friday."

However, the state government had defended CRPF action on June 20, when Javed Ahmad Malla (19) died in Srinagar.

Abdullah had called the protests of Malla and others who were attending the funeral of Rafiq Ahmad Bangroo "suicidal".

Bangroo had died after allegedly being beaten up by the CRPF on June 12.

"When you try to attack a vehicle with armed men, they will react in defence," he had told reporters.

The CRPF refused to comment.

"Our director general (Vikram Srivastava) held a meeting with the state government and assured help," said CRPF spokesperson (Kashmir) Prabhakar Tripathi.

"Our role is defined and that's counter insurgency," he added.

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