China meddling in Kashmir: Mehbooba
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti today met Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss the law and order situation in the state, especially security to Amarnath pilgrims. Making a statement after the meeting, she said China was "also trying to meddle into" Kashmir issue.
During the meeting that lasted nearly an hour, the chief minister apprised the Home Minister about the steps taken to maintain peace in Kashmir, officials said.
Steps taken to ensure the security of Amarnath pilgrims were also discussed, they said.
"Kashmir issue is not a law and order problem. It is happening because of external forces. The ongoing fight is a handiwork of external forces and now unfortunately China is also trying to meddle into it," Mehbooba told reporters emerging from the meeting.
China on Wednesday said it was ready to play a "constructive role" in improving India-Pakistan ties over Kashmir, where the "situation has attracted the attention of the international community". However, India rebuffed Beijing's offer, saying, "We are ready to talk Kashmir with Pakistan, but no third party mediation."
The chief minister said he had discussed with the home minister the attack on Amarnath pilgrims.
"The attack was designed to create communal tension in the country. But I am grateful that the entire country, political parties and the central government especially the home minister helped us in overcoming the tragedy," she said.
Kashmir is on the boil since the killing of popular Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by government forces on July 8, 2016. About 96 civilians were killed and about 16000 injured by government forces in the bid to quell pro-freedom uprising in Kashmir last summer. About 1100 civilians were shot by deadly pellets in the eyes, many among whom were partially or fully blinded. The international media called this 'an epidemic of dead eyes in Kashmir.'
The agitation has resumed since the April 9 by-poll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. On that day, nine civilians were shot dead by government forces amid near total boycott of the polls which saw only 7% voting.
Mehbooba said the Jammu and Kashmir government had requested the central government for ensuring that Article 370 should not get diluted as it has an emotional connect with the people of the state.
"I am happy that the president in his (GST) order has reiterated that special status granted to the state would not be diluted. Security agencies engaged in anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir have been told to implement security plans with full vigour, officials said.
So far, more than 1.86 lakh pilgrims have visited the high altitude Himalayan shrine.
As many as 21,000 paramilitary personnel in addition to state police forces and two battalions of Army have been deployed for security of the pilgrimage routes.
The number of paramilitary personnel deployed this year is 9,500 more than last year.