Rajnath Singh in Kashmir; holds talks with political leaders, reviews security situation
As part of Centre's outreach, Home Minister Rajnath Singh today visited Kashmir for the second time in a month and held talks with political leaders after reviewing the security situation on the ground.
Rajnath was told by the leaders that the Centre should initiate a dialogue with all stakeholders to find a lasting solution to problems faced by Jammu and Kashmir.
The visit of Singh, who before leaving for Srinagar, said he will hold talks with all stakeholders and that those who believe in 'Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat' are welcome, came on a day when fresh clashes broke out between protesters and security forces in Pulwama district in which one youth was killed.
The death toll in the unrest in Kashmir Valley that broke out on July 8 has now climbed to 66.
Amid tight security, Singh, who is in a two-day visit, drove through the tense city roads dotted with para-military forces who ensured he did not have to face any protesters.
Immediately upon his arrival at the Nehru Guest House here, Singh, accompanied by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and other officials, held a meeting with different wings of administration including security, health and maintenance of essential commodities for the people.
Singh was briefed by top civil, army, police and paramilitary officials about the prevailing situation in the Kashmir Valley, which has been witnessing unrest for the last 47 days after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani on July 8.
The Home Minister was conveyed that there has been improvement in situation on the ground, there is no scarcity of essential commodities and health services are functioning, official sources said.
Official sources said Singh asked head of para-military forces, dealing with the law and order situation, to exercise maximum restraint while dealing with protesters and also appreciated their efforts in maintaining law and order in the Valley.
This is Singh's second visit to the state ever since the unrest in Kashmir Valley broke out 47 days ago when Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani was killed on July 8.
The Home Minister's visit is an effort by the central government to restore normalcy in the Valley, which has been reeling under curfew and restrictions since trouble started.
"I shall interact will civil society groups, political parties and other stakeholders," he said, before leaving for Srinagar, adding "those who believe in Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat(Kashmir's pluralist ethos, humanity and democracy) are welcome."
After the review meeting, the Home Minister had separate meetings with heads of para-military forces and state police chief for understanding their working conditions and also to enquire whether there was an operational requirement.
Later, a delegation of opposition National Conference led by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met the Home Minister and urged him to immediately ban use of pellet guns as a crowd control means in Kashmir.
In the meeting that lasted nearly 45 minutes, the delegation urged the Home Minister to immediately ban use of pellet guns as a crowd control means in Kashmir.
"They also demanded that Centre initiate a dialogue with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir to find a lasting solution to the problems faced by the state," sources said.
The NC hoped that the visit will lead to a meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders.
Omar had led a delegation of Opposition parties to New Delhi last week where they called on President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to apprise them about the ground situation in Kashmir.
Omar thanked Singh for promptness of the Centre in exhibiting "seriousness" about the suggestions made by the Opposition parties during their visit to Delhi.
BJP's National secretary Ram Madhav told reporters in Delhi that the Home Minister will meet all those people who want to see him and talk about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
(With PTI inputs)