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Rajnath Singh squarely blames Pakistan for unrest in Kashmir

By The Assam Tribune

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS): Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday squarely blamed Pakistan for the present unrest in Jammu and Kashmir and also said the government will set up a panel to find an alternative to pellet guns used by security forces to control protesters in the Valley.

"There can be no denying the fact that our neighbour (Pakistan) is singularly responsible for the present deterioration of the situation in the State," Singh said while replying to a short duration discussion in the Lok Sabha that had been taken up on Wednesday.

The terrorism that India is witnessing today is "Pakistan sponsored", he said adding, that it was "created in the name of religion". "However, Pakistan has failed to keep itself united," he said.

Singh denied that security forces were harsh while controlling protesting mobs in the Valley and hastened to add that personally he would always favour that minimum force is used to maintain control. The minister admitted, "there could be some aberrations" in the form of high handedness by security forces.

On use of lethal weapons and pellet bullets, which have caused large number of injuries, including eye wounds, the minister said the Home Ministry will soon set up an expert committee to explore "alternative" use of such weapons.

Over 40 people have died in clashes between protesting mobs and security forces in the Valley since July 8.

Referring to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's famous lines - "chingari ka khel khelna khatra hota hae (to play with fire is often dangerous), Singh sought to caution Pakistan on its continued role to sponsor terrorism.

Singh also said the NDA government at the Centre is pursuing Vajpayee's roadmap of "Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat (Kashmiri spirit, democracy and humanity)" towards Kashmir but at the same time there is no room for "inhumanity and violence".

The Home Minister maintained that the Central government alone cannot bring peace in the trouble-torn State and sought support from all quarters.

He also named Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin -- Pakistan-based terror heads -- for fuelling tension in Jammu and Kashmir following the July 8 killing of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani.

No relaxation in curfew across Kashmir Valley: Amid speculation that curfew will be relaxed in the Kashmir Valley, a State police spokesperson on Thursday said that the restrictions will "remain strictly in place throughout the day till further orders".

The fresh order by the police came as separatists asked Kashmiris to open their shops and stock essentials after they temporarily relaxed the shutdown from 2 pm on Thursday. The shutdown relaxation sparked rumours that the government will also ease its curfew restrictions.

The authorities had earlier decided to relax curfew across the valley to allow the people buy essentials of life.

But the police spokesperson said, "There will be no relaxation in curfew and restrictions across the Kashmir Valley."

In Srinagar, the police and paramilitary presence was beefed up and areas where restrictions were a bit lax in the past few days also came under strict curfew.

Some shopkeepers in Lal Chowk area and surrounding areas, including upscale Polo View, Lambert Lane and Residency Road markets, had assembled to open their stores after 2 pm. However, they were not allowed as police closed almost all entry points to Lal Chowk.

The authorities decided to open schools in four districts of Ganderbal, Bandipora, Badgam and Baramulla on Thursday. The valley has 10 districts. However, most of the schools had very little or no presence of children.

Separatists have again called a shutdown from Friday till Monday.

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