Sheikh Imran Bashir
Srinagar: The army staged a flag march in north Kashmir’s Baramulla town on Wednesday to defuse tensions that had arisen after violence leading to the deaths of several youths in clashes with security personnel in the Valley over the past week.
A senior police officer told Agence India Press that, a contingent of the army led by a brigadier staged a flag march in old Baramulla town to instill confidence in the people and defuse tensions there.
The flag march was carried out after the district administration made a request for it.
Tensions had heightened in Baramulla and Sopore towns after the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) shot dead two youths when their vehicle was attacked and torched by an angry mob in Sopore town last Friday.
Another youth was killed in Sopore on Sunday when a mob defied curfew restrictions there.
On Monday, mobs attacked a CRPF picket in Sopore. This prompted the guard there to fire at them, resulting in the death of another youth.
A boy was killed in Delina village, 14 km from Sopore town, on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road the same day when mobs marching to Sopore from Baramulla attacked the security men.
Tensions spread to the south Kashmir Anantnag town when security forces fired at a mob, killing three teenagers on Tuesday.
Meanwhile Army Chief General V K Singh has said that a political solution is required to end the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I feel there is a great requirement for political initiatives that take all people together,” General Singh told the Times of India in an interview.
“Militarily, we have brought the overall internal security situation in Jammu and Kashmir under control. Now, the need is to handle things politically,” he said.
He said the armed forces are required to undertake operations in very difficult circumstances.
“If the Jammu and Kashmir situation has come under control, it’s the forces which have sacrificed with their blood,” he added.
He said local police needed to be more active to allow the army, currently numbering about 500,000, to reduce its presence in the region.
He further said the Pakistan army also remains steadfast in its Kashmir agenda, resorting to its old policy of giving ‘covering or distracting fire’ to help militants sneak across the LoC.
General Singh’s comments come at a time when the peace and reconciliation process in Kashmir valley has taken a major hit with the killing of eight youth in security related firing.
Curfew is still in place in most areas, including Sopore, Anantnag and Baramulla Districts. Restrictions under Section 144, which prohibit the assembly of over four persons, are in place in and around Srinagar and Baramulla Districts.
Additional security forces have been deployed in Sopore, Baramulla and downtown Srinagar.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has invited Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to visit the state to review security and take steps to end the violence.