Omar sees ‘2008-like intrigue’ in riots

The Jammu and Kashmir government detained senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley at Jammu airport and confined People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti to her home on Sunday, making it clear that it would not allow visit by any political leader to the riot-hit Kishtwar for the time being.

Both Mr. Jaitley and Ms. Mufti planned to visit Kishtwar on the third day of the communal violence which began on Friday, when two persons were killed and property was destroyed in widespread arson.

Mr. Jaitley, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, who flew in from New Delhi, was told of the government’s decision not to allow any leader to visit the region. He was sent back to New Delhi. BJP’s Rajya Sabha member from Punjab, Avinash Rai Khanna, was taken into custody near Lakhanpur in Kathua district when he tried to enter Jammu and Kashmir to join Mr. Jaitley’s entourage.

The BJP leadership later held the National Conference-Congress coalition responsible for “insecurity” among the minorities and the communal trouble in parts of Jammu. It termed “undemocratic” the State’s decision to disallow any political visit to Kishtwar.

Ms. Mufti alleged at a news conference that Jammu and Kashmir had become a ‘police State’ as key decisions were taken by the police. As Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, she wanted to visit the town to instil a sense of security in residents. Meanwhile, for the first time since violence broke out on the day of Eid, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah appeared before the media to defend his government’s decision. No leaders — not even those of the National Conference or of the Congress — were being allowed to tour Kishtwar and other sensitive districts.

Mr. Abdullah said parties had their agendas, and engineering a communal divide was on top of such machinations by “vested interests ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.” “The role of these political parties in the 2008 tension is before you. They want to create a similar situation by exploiting the sentiments of the people and dividing them on communal grounds… Instead of extending a helping hand to the government to restore calm and tranquillity, they try to fuel the fire for their vested interests,” he said, without naming any party.

In Kishtwar, curfew remained in force for the third day. After some shops and vehicles were attacked in Jammu on Saturday, curfew was imposed on six more districts, including Jammu, Rajouri, Reasi and Samba.