In Kashmir, protesters clash with police as 3 die: Has New Delhi declared war on the Valley, asks Omar

Even as clashes were reported between protesters and security forces in Anantnag and Shopian districts of south Kashmir on Saturday, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "silence" on the situation which he termed as "heart-breaking" and "worrying".

He was reacting to the death of three persons in security forces action after violent protests on Saturday. Curfew continued in many parts of the Valley and normal life remained paralysed for the 29 consecutive day. 21 people were injured in violence in Chee in Anantnag when protesters staged a rally, a police official said, adding the security forces used various crowd control measures to disperse the protesters.

The National Conference working president on Saturday had hit out at the Centre for claiming that the situation in the Valley was improving. Omar tweeted:

In another tweet, Omar said it was only the ruling coalition partners -- PDP and BJP -- who agreed with this stand.

The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that the law and order situation in Kashmir Valley has improved considerably since the outrebrak of violence following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July. It said the violent protests having gone down from 201 on 9 July to 11 on 3 August.

With three deaths on Saturday, the toll in the violence in the Valley has now reached 54. "Curfew remains in force in six police station areas of Srinagar -- Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal, Maharajgunj and Batamaloo -- as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order," a police official said. He said curfew was also in force in four towns of Budgam district -- Chadoora, Khansahib, Magam and Budgam , Anantnag town and Khanpora area of Baramulla district.

In Kashmir, protesters clash with police as 3 die: Has New Delhi declared war on the Valley, asks Omar

A file photo of Omar Abdullah with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

"Restrictions on assembly of four or more people continue to remain in effect in rest of the Valley," the official said.

Omar expressed complete "disappointment" at the lack of "political measures" taken by the Centre since Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Valley last month. "To blame Pakistan for the unrest or to delude ourselves into thinking this is a law and order situation is criminal. There is an extreme sense of resentment and disenchantment among the youths of the Valley and that is the basis of this unrest," Omar said in a statement here.

He said every appeal to New Delhi to engage with Pakistan and the people of Kashmir to resolve the issue has falling on deaf ears.

"There is no sense of concern and empathy from the central government," the former chief minister said.

He said the sense of "bereavement, injustice and hopelessness" in Kashmir is "widespread and deep".

"New Delhi's continued arrogance in refusing to acknowledge this to presumably save its government in the state with PDP goes against not only all tenets of justice and humanity but also against the interests of the country and its people against the very fabric of the country's constitution," he said.

"Kashmir is a political issue and nothing short of a comprehensive, sustained political dialogue with all stakeholders in the Valley as well as Pakistan can serve as an acceptable alternative on the policy level," Omar said.

Attacking Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, he said, "Mehbooba is solely and primarily interested in her ridiculous self-marketing exercises by going to the extent of playing out video footage of board meetings and administrative meetings on Doordarshan to apparently pretend she has a bone of empathy and humanity in her and that she is still around. "Nothing could be more insensitive to the suffering and bereaved families at this juncture..." he said.

"We had asked for an immediate ban on pellet guns and that security forces as well as the police should be held accountable for any excessive use of force," he said.

The recent killing of Reyaz Ahmed from Chattabal in Srinagar has demolished every possible argument that defends the use of lethal force in the Valley, he said.

"Has New Delhi declared a war on the people in Kashmir? Hundreds of young boys and girls have potentially life-changing injuries, most of them caused by pellet guns."

He said despite nearly 300 youths being shot in their eyes with pellet guns, the state and the central governments seem to be "encouraging" the use of pellet guns through their "inaction and silence" rather than banning their use.

"It is evident that their sole concern is political survival based on a quid-pro-quo arrangement where PDP has sold out to the BJP and BJP's central government in New Delhi has in turn quite apparently extended its unconditional protection and patronage to an inefficient, insensitive and inept state government in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

Expressing disappointment at the central government's apathy towards the "grave" situation in Kashmir, Omar said the Centre had "misled the Supreme Court by saying the situation in the Valley was improving and under control".

"Just a day after the central government misinformed the Supreme Court about the situation in the Valley, three youths lost their lives and more than 400 have been injured - a lot of them having sustained life-threatening, lethal injuries," he said.

Expressing grief and anguish, Omar extended his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and prayed for recovery of thousands who are battling serious injuries in hospitals.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Aug 07, 2016 10:06:46 IST

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