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Kashmir unrest: Two weeks since violent clashes, Home Minister Rajnath Singh to visit valley


New Delhi: With the Valley on the boil with the violent clashes between locals and security forces refusing to simmer down, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday on a two-day visit to take stock of the situation in the state. Speaking in the Parliament on Thursday, Rajnath said that security forces were instructed to exercise maximum restraint while dealing with protests in Kashmir valley.

He also said that an experts’ committee will review the use of pellet guns by security forces. “It is not like pellet guns were not used in Kashmir in the past; they were, in fact, used in 2010 as well, and they are listed as non-lethal weapons. We will, however, form a committee of experts, which will tell us in two months the non-lethal alternatives to these guns,” Rajnath said.

Singh said he had spoken to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who said she would come to Delhi in the next 2-3 days to hold discussions. “I told her that I myself would like to go there, stay in a guest house and meet people there,” he said. The Home Minister said that all political parties have tried to work for the resolution of the Kashmir problem. “The Kashmir issue needs to be dealt with collectively. Everyone needs to partake in the responsibility of making the situation better,” the home minister said.

On Thursday, an all-party meeting convened by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was held in Srinagar to review the situation in the valley and to find a way to solve the violence that has left around 43 people dead and thousands injured, after protests broke out in the valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.

Meanwhile in Jammu and Kashmir, the curfew and restriction remain in force across Kashmir on 14th consecutive day in view of continuous shut down call by separatists and prevailing law and order situation. Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr. Farooq Lone said that the curfew will continue in Srinagar. The civilian death toll since July 9 unrest stands at 42 with one policeman also dead.

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