'Kashmir Sectarain Clashes Incited With An Eye On Polls'

'Kashmir Sectarain Clashes Incited With An Eye On Polls'

4 August 2013
The Hindustan Times
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday expressed concern over sectarian clashes ahead of the upcoming assembly polls of 2014 and warned that 'an attempt is being made polarize society with an eye on vote banks.' “Elements dividing society on sectarian and communal lines expand their activities soon elections draw nearer,” said Abdullah during a meeting with Shia sect leaders in Srinagar. Violent clashes marred around 30 villages of central Kashmir’s Budgam district, 20 km away from Srinagar, last month. Dozens of houses, religious places and public property was damaged in in one week long clashes between the two communities. One woman also died during the clashes. “They (communal elements) want to polarise the society, create conflicts between various sections, sects, faiths, regions and castes keeping eye on votes,” said the chief minister. Speaking to a delegation of Majlis-e-Tahfuz-e-Itihaad (MTI), one of the civil society bodies constituted to pacify the tension in Budgam, Abdullah said, “There is need to nurture brotherhood between Shia and Sunni Muslims to defeat nefarious designs.” He asked all communities to remain vigilant against the elements who propagate trifle incidents into conflicts between two groups just for their personal benefits. Meanwhile, the chief minister announced one month’s free ration for the families affected by the clashes in Budgam. The government has asked the divisional commissioner, Kashmir, to be nodal officer for assessing the damages caused to various families in the clashes. “The divisional commissioner will be given directions to complete the damage assessment report within the shortest possible time so that a comprehensive rehabilitation programme is launched for their rehabilitation,” said Abdullah. The government has asked the horticulture, agriculture, rural development and revenue departments “to dovetail their schemes to help rehabilitation of the affected families and restoration of their agriculture and horticulture activities”. Meanwhile, the Majlis-e-Tahfuz-e-Itihaad raised the issue of releasing those who have been arrested with the chief minister. A government spokesman said the chief minister told the delegation that he would ask the police department to review their cases and release those who are not involved in serious acts and crimes after obtaining assurance from their families that they would not repeat their troublesome and peace disturbing actions.