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Updated: March 2, 2010 22:45 IST

I won’t allow 700 youths to hold Kashmir hostage: Omar

Shujaat Bukhari
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Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah
Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah

Maintaining that Sopore in north Kashmir and Kulgam in south were emerging a major challenge on the militancy front, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said he would not allow 700 youths to hold Kashmir hostage.

Replying to a discussion on Governor N.N. Vohra’s address to the legislature, Mr. Abdullah told the Legislative Council that some people were trying hard to foment trouble. Referring to stone throwing incidents, he said his government would not allow some 700 youths to disrupt the peace. “They want a volcano to spread, but we will not allow that.”

Mr. Abdullah said he was working on information about the “background and whereabouts” of the people backing those resorting to stone throwing. “We will unveil them before the public, once our investigation is over.”

Reiterating his appeal to the Masjid and Mohalla Committees to cooperate with the local administration in arresting the trend of stone throwing, he said: “In some areas, the heads of Masjid Committees were coming forward and I hope this will yield good results.”

A written assurance from the Mohalla Committees was a must so that these youth (arrested by police) would not pick up stones again once they were out.

While expressing satisfaction over the situation in 2009 and describing it as the “most peaceful year” in 20 years of turmoil, Mr. Abdullah said 2010, however, saw a spurt in infiltration.

“Militants are grouping in the Sopore area and Kulgam district. These areas are a challenge for us on the militancy front. We are taking extra measures to deal with the militants there.”

Hailing the resumption of India-Pakistan talks at the Foreign Secretary-level, the Chief Minister said the ground reality in Jammu and Kashmir was directly affected by the relations between the neighbours — good or bad. “When India and Pakistan were engaged in talks, infiltration and ceasefire violation on the LoC [Line of Control] showed a decline. After India-Pakistan relations worsened, following the 26/11 attack [on Mumbai], infiltration also increased.” Hardly any day passed when ceasefire violations did not take place along the LoC.

Mr. Abdullah counselled Pakistan to cash in on the recent statement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that India was ready to go the extra mile, if Pakistan curbed terrorism.

Criticising the People’s Democratic Party for adopting “double standards,” he said if it condemned the killing of Zahid Farooq in Nishat on February 5, it should have also acknowledged the arrest of a BSF man in that case.

“Do they [the PDP] have any such example to their credit when they were in power?” If they thought that “my government will bow before its lies, they are mistaken.”

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