Situation in Kashmir ‘grave’: Chidambaram


New Delhi : With the violence in the Valley killing at least 30 people since June and sparking a heated debate in parliament, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought the central government’s help in mitigating the crisis.

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Abdullah, who arrived in the capital Monday morning, met Manmohan Singh at his 7 Race Course Road residence and apprised him of the worsening situation in the Kashmir Valley. Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee were also present at the meeting.

Different ways to bring the situation under control were discussed the meeting, said sources in the Prime Minister’s Office.

The chief minister is understood to have asked for more paramilitary forces to deploy in the valley to end the cycle of violence that has claimed over 30 lives since June 11, said the sources.

This was Manmohan Singh’s second meeting over Kashmir in 24 hours after he met members of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) Sunday night to assess the situation in the valley.

The critical situation in the Valley reverberated in parliament Monday, with the opposition demanding an explantion from the government.

“Violence and anarchy are just the symptoms. What are reasons for this? What is the government doing? The home minister should tell us,” senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani said in the Lok Sabha.

Chidambaram admitted that the situation in the Valley had “taken a serious turn,” adding that he would make a statement after discussions with Abdullah.

“Jammu and Kashmir is a very sensitive state. Over the last few days the situation has taken a serious turn. After July 9 there was lull in the situation but it has again become grave,” he told the house, after opposition members expressed their concern over the worsening situation in the Kashmir Valley.

“The chief minister is in Delhi. I have had many discussions with him over the last few weeks. There will be more discussions. If it is possible I will come back to the house today (to make a statement after meeting Omar Abdullah) or I shall do it as early as possible,” the home minister said.

Abdullah arrived in the capital against the backdrop of 15 deaths, mostly in firing by security forces, in the Kashmir Valley in the last four days of violence.

Sunday was the bloodiest day in the valley in recent months. Frenzied mobs torched government offices, police camps and vehicles in south Kashmir areas after blocking the strategic Jammu-Srinagar highway by felling trees and erecting stone barricades.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) met for the second time in less than a month Sunday evening to assess the situation in Kashmir Valley.

The government, the sources said, wants the state government to get tough with trouble-makers who are inciting mobs to indulge in violence.

Abdullah is also likely to reiterate his demand for initiating an internal dialogue with all shades of opinion in the state.