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7 days after violence,calm in Kishtwar could be deceptive

District administration claimed that curfew in Kishtwar was relaxed for the second consecutive day Friday,locals rebut the claim.

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | Doda |
August 17, 2013 3:13:14 am

Seven days after riots,which started over a minor confrontation between Hindus and Muslims but soon escalated into a free-for-all after anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans by some anti-social elements,including workers of the separatist conglomerate Hurriyat Conference,left two persons dead and dozens injured,it’s peaceful in Kishtwar. But the calm could be temporary,one reason why senior district and state government functionaries are refusing to lift the curfew.

In fact,even though the district administration claimed that curfew in Kishtwar was relaxed for the second consecutive day Friday,locals rebut the claim. The relaxation,locals claim,is only on paper and residents are not allowed to come out of their houses during the hours when curfew is supposed to be relaxed.

Moreover,in a clear signal that the curfew-enforced peace could be tested once curfew is lifted is the fact that despite repeated attempts,the district administration has been unable to get representatives of the two communities to sit together to thrash out their issues and bridge the trust deficit.

“The administration wants us to sit and talk to the Muslims. But,how can we do this when nobody from the state government is ready to come to us to understand our problems? Why has the government not sent any team to Kishtwar to access the damage to property and lives? We know that if we talk and agree to end our struggle against anti-national forces,supported by many within the government and district administration,there will be recurrence of the rioting. The Kashmiri separatists want to turn Kishtwar into an extension of Kashmir,where there is no room for minorities. There plan will,however,not succeed here,” says Sanatan Dharam Sabha leader Hans Raj Bhutiyal,who has emerged as leader of the minority community.

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For talks to happen,Bhutiyal and his supporters have forwarded some conditions,including immediate transfer of Doda-Ramban range DIG of Police Ashkoor Wani for failing to act on inputs from the minority community about plans by separatists to target them and Kishtwar (headquarters) DSP Farooq Kesar for allegedly siding with the rioters and turning a blind eye to “questionable activities” of locals leaders of pro-Pakistan Hurriyat.

They have also asked the state government to send a team to decide in a time-bound manner the compensation that would be given to traders whose shops were looted.

But one of the sticking points is the arrest of 11 persons for their role in the riots. Both sides are upset that not even a single person has been arrested for the killing of three persons — two Hindus and a Muslim.

Sources in the district administration say even a strong section of Muslim community is averse to the idea of immediate talks. “What purpose will the talks achieve? Both sides have pre-conceived notions,their own set of grievances,which will not be settled anytime soon. Talks will serve no purpose unless our people arrested after the riots are released,” said a prominent Muslim community leader.

However,a senior district officer said a fresh attempt would be made Saturday to bring the two sides to the talks table.

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