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Omar meets HM to discuss Kashmir situation
NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR, JUL 17 (IANS):
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Published on 17 Jul. 2010 11:10 PM IST
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Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Saturday met Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram here to discuss the volatile situation in the troubled state and the “way forward” to bring peace.
The brief but crucial meeting took place at Chidambaram’s residence soon after Abdullah flew into the capital Saturday morning.
“We discussed the latest situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The meeting was to discuss the recent developments in the state particularly on the law and order front,” Abdullah told reporters after the nearly half-an-hour meeting.
The chief minister said he had an extensive discussion with the home minister on “our assessment of the situation in the state now, where we are today and the way forward”.
Abdullah has come under a sharp criticism from opposition parties in the state for failing to manage crisis triggered by a cycle of violence since June 11 during which 14 civilians were killed in police firing on stone pelting mobs in the Kashmir Valley.
He said the state police and paramilitary troopers needed to be equipped better with “non-lethal weapons” to control unarmed stone-pelters.
“We discussed the requirements in terms of non-lethal equipments for the state police force and paramilitary forces to control large crowds. However, the primary aim (of the meeting) was to discuss our plan of action for the days and weeks to come to deal with the present situation,” he said.
This was his first face-to-face meeting with Chidambaram since the crisis erupted in the Valley following the killing of 17-year-old student Tufail Mattoo June 11.
Asked about the deployment of the army in the state to contain the crisis, Abdullah said: “The army is a part of the state counter-insurgency grid and also a part of necessary deployment along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border. There is no other role for the army in Kashmir.”
About the opposition criticism for his alleged failure, Abdullah said “regardless of what the opposition says, it is the state government and its various wings that assesses the situation in the state and then takes crucial decisions” and that the situation had improved since last Tuesday after the army was deployed.
“Our immediate aim was to put an end to the large protests and end the cycle of deaths while protesting and further protests emerging out of that. Fortunately, we have been able to control the situation. There have been no casualties in the last week and even though people are coming out on the roads, the size and intensity of the protests have decreased.”
Abdullah is also likely to meet Defence Minister A.K. Antony later in the day.
Kashmir back on its feet
Life limped back to normal in summer capital Srinagar and other parts of the Kashmir Valley Saturday after 11 days of separatist shutdowns and official restrictions.
Educational institutions, banks, post offices, markets and other business establishments across the Valley opened again after they had shut down July 6. Public transport also plied normally.
Two people, including a 25-year old woman, were killed July 6 in firing by security forces in the city’s Batmaloo area. The incident triggered massive protests and violence forcing the authorities to seek the army’s assistance in maintaining calm.
A police officer told IANS that there were no restrictions anywhere in the Valley.
Hundreds of vehicles, both public and private, were seen on the roads returning life to the city roads.
School children were the happiest as they came out of the Old City areas where official restrictions had paralysed life for nearly two weeks.
“It is a great experience. I shall be meeting my friends at the school for the first time after 12 days,”, said 14-year-old Madeeha, a student of Presentation Convent school here.
Markets were busy as people rushed to buy essential household items.
Shops in uptown and Old City areas, which continued to sell essential commodities to during restrictions, had run short of supplies as shopkeepers could not replenish their stocks.
“The main wholesale markets were closed for the last 12 days. I will buy fresh stocks for my shop today,” said Mehraj-ud-Din, a shopkeeper in Rajouri Kadal area.

 
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