Concern in Rajya Sabha over Kishtwar violence

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JAITLEYNew Delhi August 12;Members in Rajya Sabha on Monday voiced concern over violence in Kishtwar area of Jammu and Kashmir with Opposition saying the country’s “sovereignty and integrity” was at stake and the matter should not be dismissed as an inter-community clash.

Initiating an impromptu debate in the House, the Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley alleged that the state government had failed to take appropriate measures to control the violence and warned that it should not be a repeat of 1990 when an entire minority community was compelled to leave Kashmir Valley.

“The violence in Kishtwar and adjoining areas involves the sovereignty and integrity of the country and should not be seen only as a clash between two communities,” Mr. Jaitley said.

Comparing the events to the violence in 1990 in the Valley that had “compelled a community to leave”, he said when the violence occurred last week, the state government officials had not taken enough measures to control the situation.

He said there are reports that a senior functionary of the government could be involved and demanded this aspect be probed.

“This incidence is not just an inter-community conflict,” Mr. Jaitley said, adding that flags of another country were waved and pictures of a convict given death sentence displayed.

He sought to know why no arrest was made though hundreds of shops have been gutted and many people injured.

“People were crying out of helplessness,” he said, adding, the situation was out of control due to which the injured could not be admitted to the civil hospital and were rushed to the military hospital.

Mr. Jaitley sought to know if the government was trying to impose censorship by not allowing him and other leaders to visit the area.

He recalled that in the past when such a situation arose then Home Minister Shivraj Patil and later his successor P Chidambaram had taken all-party delegations to help people exhaust their anger and calm down tempers but now an “iron curtain” has been imposed so that nobody enters the state.

Hitting out at the state government, Mr. Jaitley said the state of Jammu and Kashmir is not property of any one family.

He said India is not a “banana republic” where an indefinite order is issued under Section 144 banning a person from entering Jammu region.

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