Kishtwar violence: Omar Abdullah blames BJP of trying to flare up tension

Srinagar, Aug 11: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today accused the BJP of trying to flare up the situation in Kishtwar to polarise the population with an eye on next year's elections to
kishtwar violence omar abdullah blames bjp of...
PTI August 11, 2013 14:52 IST
Srinagar, Aug 11: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today accused the BJP of trying to flare up the situation in Kishtwar to polarise the population with an eye on next year's elections to parliament and the assembly.

Vowing to ensure swift action against those involved in violence that erupted on Friday and appealing to the people not to fall prey to rumours, he said the government has taken a decision not to allow any political party or leaders – be it from mainstream or separatists -- to visit the violence hit areas as it had the potential of deteriorating the situation.

"And that includes Arun Jaitley too," Omar said soon after the BJP leader was detained at Jammu airport while he was on his way to Kishtwar for an on the spot assessment of the situation.

Without naming any political party, the Chief Minister lashed out at politicians for trying to polarise the situation in Jammu region and said, "their entire aim seems to be to recreate the conditions of 2008 (Amarnath land row agitation) so that they can exploit it in the subsequent parliament (polls) and then the assembly election."

He said that he has spoken to the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.

"In a telephonic conversation with the leader of opposition, I asked her to tell their people in the region to maintain calm and not to flare up the issue," Omar said.

He alleged, "The aim is certainly to exploit the sentiment that has risen as a result of Kishtwar (incident), to try and polarise the people."

He said that so far they have not succeeded beyond a handful of incidents.

"But that has not stopped them from trying. Otherwise, what would be the justification for these people to rush to Jammu? Do they rush to any other place?

"I can name you incidents of communal riots in other states in this year itself. Have they been to those areas? Have they appealed to people? Why is that they single out Jammu and Kashmir, particularly Jammu region, for their special attention. Did I not have Shia-Sunni clashes in the Valley not so long ago? Where were they then?" he asked.

The Chief Minister, while assuring that justice will be done, urged people to ignore rumours about the situation in Kishtwar and other affected areas.

"My earnest appeal to people is please do not allow these political parties, who are putting political interest above human interest, to exploit your sentiments, to exploit the situation," Omar told reporters at a hurried convened press conference here.

"Please dismiss rumours because there are a lot of rumours floating around today.... We will restore order and we will ensure that justice is done," Omar said.

Omar said his appeal was directed at the common people and not the political parties.

"Rather than appeal to political parties, which I know will fall on deaf ears, I am using the channels of the media to appeal to the people of Jammu and Kashmir not to fall prey to rumours," he said.

The Chief Minister said his government will do everything to address the concerns of the people about the Kishtwar incident.

"I want to assure the people that we would do everything necessary to ensure that this trouble does not spread to other parts of state. We will also do everything necessary to restore calm and maintain calm in Kishtwar and surrounding areas," he added.

He said he will ensure that the facts of the enquiry ordered by the state government into the Kishtwar clashes are made known to the people.

"...As to how the situation developed, whether there were any administrative lapses, and if there were any lapses, who were responsible, and swift action will follow.

"We will also ensure that any people responsible for the deaths and damage to property in Kishtwar and in other areas will be brought to book and the most severe punishment will be handed out to them," he said.

Omar said he would be very open to the participation of the politicians if they had come with the intention of helping to improve the situation.

"The truth is that they are not. I have seen these people and their role in 2008 and 2010. Their only aim is to try and exploit this for their own political purposes. They have absolutely no human interest at heart," he said.

Omar said the situation in 2008 resulted in nothing but death and destruction and nothing changed on the ground.

"The final agreement that was worked out was similar to what had happened right in the beginning. But what happened was a huge loss of life and public property from which people are still reeling," he said.

Asked if the BJP and like-minded parties were fuelling the law and order problems in Jammu region following the Kishtwar incident, Omar evaded a direct reply.

"Who are the people who are burning tyres in Jammu? Who are the people who are forcing the people to shut their shops?" he asked.

In response to a question about possibility of disarming the Village Defence Committee, Omar said these committees were set up with the only aim of combating militancy.

"A decision on this will be taken by the police administration," he said.

 Omar said the authorities were also mulling the possibility of asking the people to deposit all the licensed weapons in their nearest police station.

"However, there are many unlicensed weapons also out there as one gun shop was looted (by the mobs) in Kishtwar on the first day of the clashes," he said.

The Chief Minister dismissed suggestions that the administration was lax in responding to the clashes saying the procedures laid down had to be followed.

"As much as we wish that things could be done by snapping fingers, it cannot happen. When the Deputy Commissioner felt that police and paramilitary personnel are not able to handle the situation as they were outnumbered, he sent a formal request to the Army for flag march as laid down in the constition.

"The request had to be approved by army headquarters and troops needed to be mobiliSed which takes some time. The fact that we were able to restore calm within hours, before fall of the night, is indicative of the swiftness of the action," he said.
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