Home Minister Shah Summons High-Level Meet On Kashmir In Delhi

J&K LG, Senior Govt Officers To Attend Second Meeting In Less Than A Fortnight

New Delhi- Alarmed by the unabated target killings by the militants, the central government has convened a high level meeting in New Delhi on Friday to discuss the situation.

The meeting, second such exercise in less than a fortnight, will be chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah. The spate of targeted killings have sparked fear among Kashmiri Pandits living and working in Kashmir Valley with many of them threatening to migrate enmasse from Kashmir.

Officials said Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, and senior functionaries of the central government and union territory have been summoned to Delhi for the meeting which is also expected to take stock of the arrangements for the upcoming annual Amarnath pilgrimage, being held after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the second high-level meeting in less than a fortnight on the Kashmir issue.

In the last meeting on June 17, the home minister had advocated pro-active and coordinated anti-militancy operations and had asked security forces to ensure zero cross-border infiltration and “wipe out terrorism” from the union territory.

The meeting comes in the wake of militants carrying out three targeted killings, including of a Hindu woman teacher hailing from Samba district of Jammu region at Kulgam on Tuesday.

On May 18, militants had entered a wine shop at Baramulla in North Kashmir and threw a grenade, killing one person hailing from Jammu region and injuring three others.

On May 24, a policeman, Saifullah Qadri, was shot dead outside his residence in Srinagar while a television artiste Amreen Bhat was gunned down in Budgam two days later.

Scores of Kashmiri Pandits, who were employed under a prime minister’s package in 2012, have been staging continuous protests threatening mass exodus since the killing of Rahul Bhat, who was shot dead by militants on May 12 in Chadoora area of Budgam district in central Kashmir.

After the previous meeting, an official statement had said that the home minister directed security forces and the police to conduct coordinated counter-terrorism operations pro-actively.

The home minister had said that in order to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a prosperous and peaceful Jammu and Kashmir, security forces should ensure zero cross-border infiltration.

Taking stock of the Amarnath Yatra preparedness, Shah had said a “hassle-free” journey for the pilgrims is a priority of the Modi government and directed all arrangements, including additional electricity, water, and telecom facilities be made.

He had also stressed for enhancement of mobile connectivity along the yatra route as he directed that earth moving equipment should be placed at vantage points to clear the route in case of landslides.

The home minister had asked for an adequate number of oxygen cylinders, medical beds at an altitude of more than 6,000 feet and deployment of ambulances and helicopters to deal with any emergency medical situation.

During the previous meeting, it was also decided to enable WiFi hotspots to ensure connectivity throughout the 39 km of the yatra route from Pahalgam in south Kashmir.

The other route is through Baltal in central Kashmir where a pilgrim treks for nearly 15 km. The yatra could not take place in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and was cut short in 2019 just before the abrogation of Article 370. About three lakh pilgrims are likely to take part in the pilgrimage that is expected to end on August 11.

About 12,000 paramilitary personnel (120 companies) in addition to Jammu and Kashmir Police are expected to be deployed along the two pilgrimage routes, one from Pahalgam and the other via Baltal, officials said. Drone cameras will help the security forces to ensure the protection of the pilgrims.

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