Breaking his silence on the fortnight—old sectarian clashes in Budgam district, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday said people who fuel these incidents do it for vote bank politics.

“Elements behind these (sectarian) tensions expand their activities as soon as elections draw nearer. They want to polarise the society, create conflicts between various sections, sects, faiths, regions and castes keeping eye on votes,” Mr. Omar told a civil society group.

Majlis—e—Tahfuz—e—Itihaad (MTI) is a group constituted by the civil society recently to pacify the tension in some villages of Budgam hit by sectarian clashes on July 19 and nurture brotherhood between Shia and Sunni communities.

The Chief Minister condemned such acts which divide the society on sectarian and communal lines.

While cautioning about the nefarious designs of the elements behind the sectarian clashes, Mr. Omar announced one month’s free ration for the families affected in the incident.

The Chief Minister told the delegation led by MTI Chief Coordinator Agha Syed Mujtaba that Divisional Commissioner Kashmir will be Nodal Officer for assessing the damages caused to various families in the clashes so that a comprehensive programme is launched for their rehabilitation.

He said the Divisional Commissioner will be given directions to complete the damage assessment report within the shortest possible time so that rehabilitation of the affected families will start at the earliest.

Assuring all possible help of the government for rehabilitation of the affected families, the Chief Minister said that timber and other construction material for them will be made available for reconstruction of the damaged houses.

He said Horticulture, Agriculture, Rural Development and Revenue departments would be asked to dovetail their schemes to help rehabilitation of the affected families and restoration of their agriculture and horticulture activities.

Expressing deep grief over the loss of a life and damage to the property during the clashes, Mr. Omar asked the delegation to play their role in nurturing brotherhood, love and affection between various sections of the society.

He also asked them to remain vigilant against the elements who propagate trifle incidents into conflicts between two groups just for their personal benefits.

The Chief Minister told the delegation that he would ask the Police Department to review the cases and release those people who are not involved in any serious crimes after obtaining assurance from their families that they would not be part of any activity that can disturb peace.