M A I N   N E W S

PC sees Lashkar hand in Valley
n SMS blocked in Jammu as well n Amarnath Yatra begins, vehicles carrying pilgrims attacked; govt assures safety
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
Elements fomenting trouble in Kashmir are linked to Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, asserted the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram here today even as the situation in the valley continued to be tense.

Oil tankers initially stopped plying to the Valley following attacks on some of them by unruly mobs protesting killing of eight young people in CRPF or police firing during the last five days. Later, they were persuaded to resume services. Two hundred oil tankers supply fuel to the Valley every day.

Curfew continued in large parts of Srinagar, Sopore and Anantnag and the Army staged a flag march in Baramulla to instil confidence in response to a request made by district authorities.

The Amarnath Yatra, which began today, also faced disruptions with protesters pelting stones and attacking vehicles carrying pilgrims. The yatra, which was halted for some time at Udhampur, reached Anantnag at 10.40 pm. The government reiterated its resolve to provide full protection to the yatris.

While Chidambaram reiterated that security forces, specially the CRPF, have been asked to exercise restraint, government sources pointed out that as many as 1,700 CRPF personnel have received serious injuries during the last two years following stone-pelting by mischief mongers. Some of them lost their eyesight while face of many more were disfigured. Despite such provocation, they held, the CRPF had exercised exemplary restraint.

The Prime Minister, who returned from Canada last night, today reviewed the situation in J & K. The meeting assumed importance in view of the Army Chief’s comment in a newspaper interview that a ‘political settlement’ is needed in Kashmir.

The anti-national elements in Sopore are clearly linked to the LeT, the Home Minister said when asked if the “anti-national elements” were linked to Pakistan. Two militants belonging to LeT were killed in an operation in the Sopore area few days ago, he pointed out.

The LeT, its operatives and front organisations like Jamaat-ul-Dawaa, had figured prominently in Chidambaram’s discussions with his counterpart Rehman Malik last week. The LeT had also carried out the Mumbai terror attack.

The security forces have been advised to exercise maximum restraint while the state government has been directed to ensure that curfew, when imposed to bring the situation under control, is strictly enforced, the Home Minister said.

Chidambaram, while addressing the media this evening, said “We will support the state government in restoring the law and order situation. I hope the situation will come under control in the next few days,” “It means no rioting, no stone-pelting... We should handle the situation sensitively... many of the young boys participating in the protests were misled by vested interests”, he added and pointed out that the government had asked parents to keep them inside their homes”.

The Cabinet Committee on Security will take a final call to amend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Chidambaram said in reply to question. Other than Chidambaram, Defence Minister A K Antony was part of the meeting.

The Home minister praised J&K CM, Omar Abdullah saying “...The Chief Minister's statement has been reasonable, clear and firm... we have also asked the Chief Minister and his ministers to visit the disturbed areas.”

On his visit to Pakistan and the subsequent statement of its foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi that reining in Hafiz Saeed would be difficult, the Home Minister had a terse response saying”... Substantive discussions on security related matters and on post 26/11 matters were held between me and the Interior Minister of Pakistan, Rehman Malik... So I would rather wait for the outcomes of my meeting with the Interior Minister of Pakistan on Hafiz Saeed and on other issues that I had raised with him when we both met privately and at delegation level.”





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