Srinagar — At least 14 people, including policemen, were injured in violent protests led by separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Jammu & Kashmir on Friday, even as the Centre said it was keeping a "close watch" on the situation and would not tolerate militancy and separatism, according to reports.
Farooq tried to lead protestors to Tral area of Pulwama district as part of the ‘Tral Chalo’ call sounded by detained Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani after Friday prayers when police stalled the march leading to a free-for-all clash between Farooq’s supporters and the security forces, TV channel Times Now reported.
Separatists protest in Srinagar, clash with police after they are stopped from congregating at Tral in South Kashmir pic.twitter.com/RCHWjTgBX8— NDTV (@ndtv) April 17, 2015
Separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat, who was to lead the protestors to Tral, was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday. He created a huge political controversy by raising Pakistani flags during a rally in the state on Wednesday. The waving of Pakistani flags and chanting of anti-India slogans at the rally orgainsed to welcome Geelani renewed calls for Bhat's rearrest by the BJP, coalition partner of PDP in the state government.
Two youths were killed in an anti-militancy operation in Tral on Monday. While the local residents allege that the duo were killed in a fake encounter, the army maintained that they were militants and were killed in a gunbattle.
Holding that the BJP-PDP alliance in the state was done "purely" for the sake of governance despite "quite divergent ideologies", Union Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh said there would be no compromise on its principles.
We are going to register strong protest today, will demand inquiry in Tral encounter, time has come for AFSPA to go: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq— ANI (@ANI_news) April 17, 2015
"The central government is keeping a close watch on situation in J&K. Union Home Ministry is keeping itself abreast with all the sequence of the events from time to time. They are also giving most valuable guidance to the state of J&K," he said.
"As far as BJP is concerned both at Centre and states, our stand has been very consistent as far as nationalism, patriotism is concerned. We follow a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism, towards separatism...The coalition, which has come in Jammu and Kashmir is purely for the sake of governance," he said.
Singh made it clear that there would be no compromise on principles.
Police stalls Tral protest march in Srinagar, clash between police & protesters, tear gas shells used on protesters. pic.twitter.com/4SDBzzGLls— ANI (@ANI_news) April 17, 2015
"There is going to be no compromise on principles, which are very close to our heart for 60-65 years... No body should get away with this impression that merely for the existence in government in coalition, the BJP would be ready to compromise on any of these principles," Singh said.
The minister also noted that due to fractured poll mandate in J&K, BJP and PDP, which emerged as the two largest parties, came together to form a government to discharge democratic responsibilities "purely for the sake of governance" based on a common minimum programme.
"I am sure that with today's experience also, both the parties will learn not to trespass into each other's domain and ideological stands," he said while hoping that both will instead concentrate their energies on issues of larger interest to the common man.
He also expressed hope that the two parties would "learn to agree on the issues on which we do not see eye-to-eye and not create these contentious situations from time to time."
It's law &order situation, our Govt will deal it strictly: Ram Madhav on clash between police&protesters in Srinagar pic.twitter.com/b0excDtkML— ANI (@ANI_news) April 17, 2015
Asked about delay in arrest of Alam by the state government, Singh said, "I don't think that it was a delayed response...I am sure but the experience of today would make all of us learn. We have to be very clear about how to go about and even if it is a perceptible delay, it should be avoided.
On the issue of Centre's responsibility, he said, "I would not like to engage myself in a discussion for the reason that the state government is already taking action in the case and therefore any unwarranted comment will interfere with plan of action of state government."
"Pakistan is always looking forward to fish in troubled waters but as far as we are concerned and the BJP is concerned, we are very clear about it. We have zero tolerance towards separatism and terrorism", he said.
"Ours is an organisation whose founding father laid down his life on the soil of Jammu and Kashmir in the name of patriotism and it will be sacrilegious or a sin for us to deviate from the basic principle which forms the core of our existence," he said.
Responding to the arrest, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said, "The coalition government is in the interest of the Jammu and Kashmir, should not be construed as a weakness on part of the BJP or the central government. We are very clear about it.
"...As far as our approach is concerned, we will not tolerate any kind of anti-India activities inside Indian territory. That is why our encouragement was to the state government was that they should take immediate action without any further delay."
Main desh ko ashwastha karna chaahta hun, ki desh droh karne walon ko baksha nahi jayega: HM Rajnath Singh— ANI (@ANI_news) April 17, 2015
Rijiju said that he wants to make it very clear that anybody, who defies the Indian system or who acts in a manner, which is detrimental to the country's national pride and national sentiment or violates the law, "there are means to take action against the conerned person".
He said Alam has conducted in a manner, which is "demeaning the national interest" and hence action should be taken against him as per the rules.
"There are people, who are trying to fuel unncessary tension in the Valley, whereas the majority of the people are not on the same page. There are few fringe elements who are displaying this kind of Pakistani flags or raising pro-Pak slogans. They are not the majority of Kashmiris. These are fringe elements.
"The action is to be taken by the Government and the goverment is doing that. We are very clear that we will be watchful of all such activities in Kashmir and anywhere else in the country," Rijiju said.
Maintaining that the political idelogies of the BJP and the PDP are quite divergent and they came together due to the fractured mandate of the elections, Rijiju said, "This does not mean we will compromise with national security. We will continue to make our stand very clear. Government of India has made it very clear.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, "Any fellow, who has got a sympathy towards Pakistan is not acceptable. There is a law, there are rules and regulations....Law is taking course. We do not want anybody in our country to do anti-national activity."
"The very moment Alam raised Pakistan flag, he raised pro-Pakistan slogan, none other than Home Minister of India Rajnath Singh gave a swift call to the Chief Minister, demanding that he should be quickly arrested and stringent most action taken against him," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
Party General Secretary Ram Madhav reiterated that there was no pressure from his party. "They have taken action after due investigation and collection of evidence," he told reporters. (With inputs from agencies)