Day Curfew Lifted, Peace March Taken Out

Day Curfew Lifted, Peace March Taken Out

21 August 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: After 13 days, day curfew was lifted and peace march was taken out by both the communities in Kishtwar town as an all party delegation conceded most of the genuine demands put forth by the two sides during their three days stay in the town, which was hit by massive violence on August 9 on the occasion of Eid festival, leading to large scale damage to the property. Meanwhile, General Officer Commanding-in- Chief, Northern Command Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra today visited Kishtwar and assured the civil administration of full support for handling the security situation. The BJP and its allied organisations, however, didn’t join the peace march in protest against alleged statement of DIG Doda-Ramban range Ashkoor Wani in a newspaper yesterday in which he had described BJP leader Sunil Sharma’s PSO Virender Kumar as mastermind of Kishtwar violence. Two BJP members in the delegation-Dr Nirmal Singh and Ashok Khajuria left Kishtwar town this morning and returned to Jammu without attending the joint meeting of the two communities. However, Sanatan Dharam Sabha convenor, Hans Raj Bhutyal told the Excelsior that the DIG Doda and DC Doda Baseer Ahmad Khan had given them a written statement that the DIG hadn’t given any statement to the press and that Virender Kumar has been detained only for questioning in connection with rioting. Mr Bhutyal said the all party delegation headed by Medical Education Minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din also assured them that the statement was handiwork of some anti-national elements, who didn’t want restoration of peace in Kishtwar. “We want peace…lifting of curfew…restoration of normalcy. There will be no violence from our side. It is now the job of all party delegation to fulfill the assurances given to us so that peace lasts for ever in Kishtwar,” he added. Earlier in the day, the joint meeting of minorities and majority community with the all party delegation that had been scheduled for 10 am today, was delayed by an hour as the BJP protested against the statement of the DIG that Sunil Sharma’s PSO was mastermind of violence. Despite repeated denials in the meeting by the DIG, the BJP leaders in the delegation (Dr Nirmal Singh and Ashok Khajuria) refused to budge and insisted on removal of the DIG on the ground that even if he hadn’t given the statement, this reflected his mindset. “The DIG should be removed. He is biased against the minorities. His intentions are doubtful,” the BJP leaders insisted and left the delegation without attending the joint meeting for Jammu. The BJP leaders would reveal their future strategy at a press conference here tomorrow morning. The joint meeting of minorities and majority community was held at the DC office complex in the presence of all party delegation minus the BJP and the NPP members. NPP MLA Balwant Singh Mankotia had left the delegation yesterday and returned to Udhampur saying the Government through some members of the delegation wanted to force compromise between the two communities. “The Government wanted to thrust peace by force and not from the core of heart. They were in a hurry. Both communities wanted curfew to be lifted but they waited it to lift till the peace march, which was joined by selected persons and not all sections of the minorities. Sensing the mindset of the Government I left the delegation,” Mr Mankotia said. The BJP and its allied organisations didn’t join the joint meeting. However, leaders of minorities belonging to all other parties and organisations attended the meeting with majority community, convened by the delegation. “The peace meeting was held in a very cordial manner with both sides stressing for restoration of peace and harmony in the district. All issues raised by the leaders of two communities pertaining to compensation, lifting of curfew, check on anti-social elements etc were resolved amicably,” an official handout issued after the peace march said. Sources said both the communities exchanged pleasantries, Raksha Bandhan greetings and pledged to work together for maintenance of peace in future. They stressed for strengthening security measures in Kishtwar. After the meeting, the members of all party delegation and representatives of the two communities took out a joint peace march in the town at 12.45 pm. Immediately after the meeting was over and the peace march started, the district administration of Kishtwar announced relaxation in curfew for three hours from 1 pm to 4 pm, which was subsequently extended to 7 pm. Authorities said day curfew has been lifted in Kishtwar town and outskirts but night curfew would remain in force as a precautionary measure. 'Hindu-Muslim-Sikh Itehad, Zindabad Zindabad’ slogans rented the air as the representatives of the two communities led by Taj Mohi-ud-Din and other members of the delegation besides Congress MLA from Inderwal, Ghulam Mohammad Saroori marched in different areas before the all party delegation left Kishtwar for Jammu after three days stay in the town. No untoward incident was reported from any part of the town during curfew relaxation period. The people got very little time to purchase sacred threads for Raksha Bandhan, which had not been in the stock due to 13 days of continued curfew. Other essential commodities had also run short in the town, sources said but added that with the lifting of day curfew the supply was essential commodities will improve in next couple of days. Police remained deployed in Kishtwar town in strength. However, Army was not visible on the roads today though it was present in the town. The BJP leaders said the administration of Kishtwar under a well though conspiracy was targeting their party leader Sunil Sharma by framing his PSO Virender Kumar in the case of rioting. “Everybody knows that the trouble had begun after some of the majority community members had shouted anti-national slogans. Even Finance Minister P Chidambaram had admitted it on floor of the Rajya Sabha that 'azadi slogans’ were raised on the occasion of Eid, leading to the trouble. Instead of booking the anti-national elements, the administration was targeting nationalist elements. This is intolerable,” they said and vowed to fight for the minorities of Kishtwar till their struggle was taken to logical conclusion. Meanwhile, Sanatan Dharam Sabha, Kishtwar has constituted a core committee of 25 members drawn from various social and political parties today. The core committee will decide future course of action regarding the devastation caused in the communal violence on August 9. The Sabha members were not involved in the peace march rally organised today, a handout issued by the Sabha said. Sources said a broad consensus has been reached that the Government would provide an interim relief of Rs 2 lakh to the persons, whose shops and other business establishments had been burnt, looted or damaged during the rioting and remaining compensation would be given on the basis of assessment by a Committee to be constituted by the Government, CRPF would replace SSB, security pickets would be established in all sensitive areas of town and outskirts to prevent trouble in future, CBI probe would be considered if desired by the judicial committee, the VDCs would continued to operate as usual, all those involved in rioting would be arrested, insurance companies would hold camps in Kishtwar for speedy disposal of claims of the sufferers and banks would be approached for soft loans to the victims and delaying payments of installments etc. Authorities would act against any one raising anti-national slogans or pasting provocative posters in Kishtwar. Sources said these assurances led to the joint meeting between minorities and majority community followed by the peace march. The all party delegation that had left for Kishtwar on February 19 comprised Taj Mohi-ud-Din (head), Devender Singh Rana and Surjit Singh Slathia (NC), Janak Raj Gupta and Thakur Hari Singh (Congress), Dr Nirmal Singh and Ashok Khajuria (BJP), Balwant Singh Mankotia (NPP), Sheikh Abdul Rehman (Samajwadi Party), Tulsi Dass Langeh and Rattan Kumar Bhagat (BSP), HS Raina (Shiromani Akali Dal), RS Bloeria (NCP), Sham Parsad Kesar (CPM) and Tej Ram Dogra (PDF). Curfew was imposed in Kishtwar town and outskirts and Army called out on August 9 after miscreants of majority community had indulged in large scale arson, looting and damaging the property of minorities after the latter had objected to raising of anti-national slogans by the people heading towards Chowgan Ground for Eid prayers. Meanwhile, during his visit to the Force Headquarters of Rashtriya Rifles in Kishtwar today, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra was briefed about the Army’s efforts in restoring normalcy in Kishtwar and Gulabgarh areas, PRO, Defence, Jammu, Col R K Palta said. The civil administration and police also briefed Lt Gen Chachra, Mr Palta said. The Army Commander assured the civil administration of full support and cooperation of the Army for handling the security situation, he said. He complimented the Force Headquarters Rashtriya Rifles and all ranks of the Delta Force for the assistance provided to the state administration in a most professional manner.