Srinagar, Jun 11: Exhorting separatists to seize the “golden opportunity” by accepting the Centre’s offer of dialogue, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Monday said everyone believes the situation in the state is a political issue that cannot be resolved militarily.
She said the dialogue offer made by the Centre after initiating the Ramadan ceasefire hinted at initiation of a political process.
“I feel that somewhere efforts are being made to carry forward the political process. How far can the political process be taken, that will depend on how good the situation remains on the ground here,” she said.
Speaking to reporters after inaugurating a bridge here, the chief minister said, “For ending the uncertainty and providing lasting peace in Jammu and Kashmir, everyone including the separatists should come forward and respond to the Home Minister’s offer of dialogue to resolve Jammu and Kashmir issue and other problems of the state.”
During a two-day visit to the state last week to review the security situation and the ongoing suspension of security-related operations during Ramadan, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said here that the Centre is ready to hold talks with all “right-minded” people in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan, but the neighbouring country should stop militant activities emanating from its soil.
The Chief Minister said everyone believed that Jammu and Kashmir is a political issue which cannot be resolved militarily.
“This is a golden opportunity…it does not happen very often that (such an offer comes from) a very powerful Prime Minister. It was 18 years ago that cessation of operations happened during the time of (the then Prime Minister) A B Vajpayee. At that time, talks were held at the level of deputy PM (L K Advani) and the process seems to have been repeated again,” she said.
Mufti said it was duty of all groups in the state to think about how to bring about peace and end the bloodshed.
“It becomes a duty of all groups including separatists to think about how to end the bloodshed in J-K which has undergone destruction in every sector for the last 30 years. Our education system has suffered, our development has suffered.”
Talking about the bridge which she inaugurated, the chief minister said it was to be completed in two years but it took three years.
“We are not able to do the development works which we want to undertake due to the situation,” she said.
The chief minister said, “We cannot force anyone but we definitely hope that they (separatists) will take advantage of this offer.”
Asked about the possibility of the Centre extending the unilateral suspension of operations beyond the fasting month of Ramadan, she evaded a direct reply saying the Prime Minister and the Home Minister will review the situation and take a decision on it.
“I am fully hopeful that the Prime Minister and the Home Minister after reviewing the situation will take an appropriate decision on it,” she said.
The PDP leader, who heads a state government in alliance with the BJP, said the common people have heaved a sigh of relief due to the suspension of operations during Ramadan. “The daily blood shedding has stopped and it has had a positive effect”.
She, however, lamented that continued violence by militants during the Ramadan month was not helping the situation in the state.
“As you see grenade attacks are taking place, weapon snatching bids are happening and security forces and police personnel are being attacked. These kinds of acts deteriorate the atmosphere,” she said.
Militant, Army officer killed in Anantnag gunfight
Srinagar, Jun 17: An Army officer and a militant were killed and three other soldiers including a Major injured in a gunfight in south Kashmir Anantnag district on Monday, police said.
Police sources said the officer was shot at during the firing exchange between the holed-up militants and security forces in Bidoora village in Achabal area of the district.
The slain militant was believed to be a foreigner.
SSP Anantnag, Altaf Khan said that the operation was launched following specific inputs about the presence of some militants in the area.
He said that as the joint team intensified the searches, the militants, hiding in the area, opened fire which was retaliated, triggering off a gunfight.
Initially, sources said, the joint team of forces and militants exchanged gunfire for some time during which the house, in which the militants were hiding, was damaged. Later there was a lull for about an hour even as Army rushed more reinforcements and the joint team started searches to find out the militants.
Soon the militants rose from the debris and opened indiscriminate fire on the forces, resulting in the on-spot death of Major Keetan Sharma and injuries to three others including another Army Major Rahul Verma, sources said.
They added the joint team of forces retailed the fire, leading to the fresh gunfight in an open field. While one militant was killed and the search operation is underway to find if there is any more militant hiding in the area.
The identity and group affiliation of the slain militant is being ascertained, sources said.
Meanwhile, youth took to streets and pelted stones at the security forces. The police and paramilitary CRPF deployed in the area used tear smoke shells and pellets to disperse them.
In wake of the operation, the authorities snapped internet service in the southern district.
IED blast in Pulwama, 6 soldiers, 2 civilians injured
Srinagar, Jun 17: Militants on Monday attempted to blow off an Army vehicle in a village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
A police official said that an armoured vehicle of Army came under an IED attack in Hargam Arihal village of Pulwama. He added that after the blast militants also fired some gunshots towards the vehicle.
Local residents informed that they heard huge blast followed by gunshots.
Reports said that six soldiers and two civilians were injured in the blast. The soldiers were shifted to Army’s 92 base hospital at Badamibagh, Srinagar for treatment.
The area was soon cordoned off, officials said.
Earlier, reports said that militants exploded an IED under a Casper vehicle, extensively damaging it, as an army convoy passed through Arihal. However, the army clarified that the damaged vehicle was not a Casper, but an Ashok Leyland Stallion truck.
Three of them who were travelling in the cabin of the vehicle are stated to be serious, the news agency reported.
The blast was triggered by militants using a car laden with explosives, GNS reported attributing the same to “initial investigations by police.”
“A police officer that the explosives were fitted inside a car and investigators are probing the owner of the vehicle. Asked, which type of vehicle was used, the officer said that it is a matter of investigation,” the news agency reported.
“Samples have been collected and further probe is underway,” the officer was quoted saying.
In a statement, the Army called the attack a “failed attempt” by militants. The troops are safe, barring a few minor injuries, it said, adding, “The area has been cordoned and search operations are in progress”.
The blast comes days after Pakistan had reportedly shared information with India and America regarding the possibility of major militant attack in the south Kashmir district. (With inputs from GNS)
Emotional scenes at slain SHO’s wreath-laying ceremony
Srinagar, Jun 17: Emotional scenes were Monday witnessed at District Police Lines (DPL) Srinagar as top cops and bureaucrats attended the wreath-laying ceremony of the slain police officer Arshad Khan, who had sustained critical injuries in a militant attack in Anantnag last week and later succumbed to his injuries at AIIMS, Delhi on Sunday.
J&K Police chief Dilbagh Singh, Advisors to Governor K Vijay Kumar and KK Sharma, Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra, Divisional Commissioner Baseer Ahmed Khan, ADGP Muneer Khan, and SSP Srinagar Dr Haseeb Mughal, among other civil and police officers were present on the occasion.
J&K Police shared two heart wrenching photos of Dr Mughal carrying the deceased’s son in his arms during the wreath-laying ceremony.
In the photos, a teary-eyed Haseeb is seen carrying slain Arshad Khan’s son while paying tributes to his colleague.
On the occasion, Advisor Kumar said that more than 1600 J&K Police personnel have lost their lives in the line of duty.
On June 12, around 4:50 pm, five paramilitary troopers and a militant were killed and four other security forces personnel including Arshad sustained injuries after militants attacked a joint party of CRPF and police at bus stand Anantnag.
Arshad was immediately evacuated to a nearby hospital and then to Srinagar’ SK Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura. After being treated there for a few days, he was flown to Delhi’s AIIMS hospital where he succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.
According to police, Arshad was inducted into police services in the year 2002 and was presently posted as SHO Anantnag. Khan is survived by father and mother, wife Neelofar, 5-year-old son Abuhan Khan, Danim 2, and a brother.