Omar asks Hindus, Muslims to keep peace

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Sunday asked Hindus and Muslims to maintain calm in Jammu region and justified his decision to keep away BJP leaders from the troubled spot.

Speaking without mincing words, Abdullah said there was a clash between members of the two major communities in Kishtwar Friday, when the Eid-ul-Fitr festival marked the end of the Muslim month of fasting.

"I will not blame any political party for the initial flare-up. But after the clashes, instead of helping the situation, they did exactly the opposite," he said, without naming any political party.

"We will do everything possible to ensure that these people do not succeed in their designs."

Violence that erupted in Kishtwar Friday has left at least two people dead. The army was called out after police failed to bring the situation under control. The trouble has since spread to newer areas.

Appealing for calm, Abdullah said: "This was a clash between two communities who have otherwise lived peacefully together.

"Hindus and Muslims will have to live together and, therefore, it is in their interest the situation returns back to normal."

The chief minister defended his government's decision not to allow Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley to proceed to the curfew-bound Kishtwar town Sunday.

"Has he visited other places in the country where communal clashes have taken place? Why single out Jammu and Kashmir and especially the Jammu region?

"Did they come to Kashmir when Shia-Sunni clashes took place here?

"I would be very open to your participation if you had actually come to help. Their role during 2008 and 2010 has proved that they want to exploit the situation for their political interests."

Jaitley landed in Jammu airport Sunday morning but was not allowed to proceed to Kishtwar town where an indefinite curfew is in force with the army's assistance for the past three days.

Replying to a question, Abdullah said there were reports of a third body being found in Kishtwar but he would only confirm it after it was proved that the death occurred due to clashes.

He was asked if members of the village defence committees (VDCs) provided with weapons in Jammu region to combat militancy were involved in the communal clashes.

"Obviously the VDCs were set up to deal with the militant threat. And everything will be taken into consideration while the administration takes a decision on the VDCs."

He refused to accept any laxity on the part of the administration in dealing with the Kishtwar situation.

"After the police failed to bring the situation under control, the army was called and posted before night fell."

 

IANS