Fresh Violence In Kashmir Ahead Of Key Cabinet Meet12 September 2010
Srinagar: The flames have been doused, but Kashmir is still feeling the heat. And the curfew was reimposed in Srinagar on Sunday and all major towns of the Valley, but it did little to subdue protests. The agitators stoned Education Minister Peerzada Sayeed's house in Anantnag, burnt a government school in Handwara and threw a petrol bomb at a CRPF bunker in Baramullah. One person was injured as security forces opened fire and used tear gas. The police on Sunday filed three FIRs against Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, leader of the Moderate Hurriyat Conference for allegedly inciting protestors who set fire to government offices a day earlier. 'Mirwaiz led procession from Idgah and for first time, and converted religious procession to violent protest. If he deviated from his original agenda - he was to only address gathering - he should've been responsible. He should've known what he was doing, he couldn't control the crowds he brought into city,' said S M Sahai, IG, Kashmir. But Mirwaiz rebuffed the charges. 'They are trying to give an impression that, you know, two buildings have been burnt and the blame is on the separatists. They are responsible for it. Some people tried to burn the buildings and we condemned it there,' he said. So if senior separatist leaders have denounced the violence, who is leading the mobs then? 'I think this is totally a frustration on the part of the government, especially Mr. Omar Abdullah as he has failed to influence the government to even give some minor concession in terms of the AFSPA. So now they are trying to blame the Hurriyat because of yesterday's aberration,' Mirwaiz added. There is a real worry that the violence on Eid and a day after could impact the crucial meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Monday. One of the biggest olive branches it's likely to offer is a partial withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The law is seen as a 'black law' by separatists as it empowers the Army over civilians in troubled areas like Kashmir. But even that is not enough for the separatists. 'Removing or reducing AFSPA from some districts is not the solution,' separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said. Meanwhile, the BJP has lashed out at Mirwaiz, saying the Hurriyat has the backing of the ISI. The party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad also hit out at Omar, saying the Chief Minister should spend more time in Kashmir, handling the situation on the ground. 'The real face of the Hurriyat and the separatists have been unmasked. The BJP condemns this strongly. Obviously this is being done by instigation by handlers across the border having patronage of the ISI...We would like to remind that Omar Abdullah was surprisingly absent from the valley and was sitting in Delhi. It was important for him to control these activities in the Valley', said Ravi Shankar Prasad. The BJP also demanded that J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah be removed, saying his government has 'completely collapsed' and warned that any dilution of AFSPA would only allow the separatists and miscreants to call the shots. A release by after the meeting of top BJP leaders at L K Advani's residence in New Delhi, said, 'It is time he (Abdullah) is replaced by a more acceptable person.' An unpopular Chief Minister suffers a complete alienation from his people, it said. In Delhi, the CCS is divided with the Defence Ministry fighting against any dilution or reduction of AFSPA. However, the Defence Minister tried to play down any such report. 'When there is a discussion, there are different points of view. But if the government takes a decision, it's final. No differences. It's all speculation. Besides, we don't share to the public details of discussions in CCS and Core Group,' Defence Minister AK Antony said. J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who after offering ID prayers in Srinagar, was in Delhi on a private visit, blamed the separatists for not honouring their promise, and said this would be a huge setback to the peace initiative that was to be announced on Monday. 'We want confidence building measures to take place. I am here in Delhi trying to keep the confidence in the process alive. Such protests create problems for everybody else...How can you take this move forward if violence continues?' said Omar. On a day when the government enforced strict curfew in Srinagar and all other major towns of the Valley, there is no let up in protests and violence. Some say this fresh wave of violence could be a setback for those working for peace initiatives and strengthens those pushing for a hardline solution.