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Home minister meets slain cop’s family, reviews security

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Srinagar: Union Home Minister Amit Shah arrived here on Saturday for his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir since Article 370 was revoked in August 2019 and drove straight to meet the family of a police officer killed by militants. He later chaired a meeting to review the security situation in the Valley.

The Home minister, who his is here on a three-day visit, was received at the technical airport here by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha and Advisor Farooq Khan.

It was a day of heavy rain and snow in several parts of the Valley. If the weather holds, he will visit Jammu on Sunday to address a public rally and return to Srinagar, officials said.

After arriving in Srinagar, Shah drove straight to meet the family of a Jammu and Kashmir Police Inspector Parvaiz Ahmad who was shot dead by militants on June 22 near his home in Nowgam on the outskirts of the city while he was returning after offering evening prayers at a mosque.

Besides LG Sinha, Shah was accompanied to Ahmad’s residence by Union Minister of State, Dr. Jitendra Singh; J&K’s Chief Secretary Dr. A.K. Mehta and senior police officers.

Inspector Pervez Ahmad is among nearly a dozen police officials who have been killed in Kashmir in a renewed wave of insurgency-related violence that has also left close to three dozen civilians dead this year as well. Most police and other security officials were targeted by militants in shoot-and-scoot attacks, which has emerged as a major challenge for Kashmir’s security grid.

Shah offered his condolences to the family and handed over documents of appointment to a government job to Ahmad’s widow, Fatima Akhtar, on compassionate grounds, a Home ministry official said.

“Today visited the family of martyr Parvaiz Ahmad Dar and paid tributes to him. I and the nation are proud of his bravery. Jammu and Kashmir Police is making all efforts to realise the vision of PM Modi for a new JK,” Shah said in a tweet later.

After meeting the inspector’s family, Shah drove to the Raj Bhawan where he chaired a security review meeting.

During the meeting which lasted for nearly four hours, the Home minister was “briefed on steps taken to eliminate terrorism from the union territory and counter-infiltration measures by the security forces,” officials said.

The meeting was attended by top civil administration officials, including the Lieutenant Governor and senior security officials from the Army, CRPF, police and intelligence agencies, they said.

In the last two weeks, 11 civilians including migrant workers and members have been killed in militant attacks, most of them in Srinagar which was declared “militancy free” just a year back, while 17 militants have also been killed by security forces during this period.

The Home minister was briefed about the “twin threats of radicalisation and (rising instances of) home-grown terrorism”, even though there has been a heavy deployment of security forces and “extensive outreach efforts” have been made by the central government and the J&K administration.

“The narrative of the Centre is that J&K is safe for everyone… but these killings prove otherwise. This is a big concern for government… so a strategy to further reassure people was discussed,” a Home ministry official said.

The official said that the armed forces and other security agencies were asked to give a “push” to the counterterrorism operations in Kashmir for thwarting the attempts of militants to “disrupt the peace”.

Meanwhile, after lunch at the Raj Bhawan, Shah drove to the nearby Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) where he interacted with youth clubs. While some youngsters were sitting in the audience at the SKICC auditorium, many others joined over video conferencing.

Shah also flagged off the inaugural Srinagar-Sharjah flight later in the day.

This is his first visit since Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 was revoked on August 05, 2019, and the state bifurcated into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Security was beefed up across Kashmir ahead of Shah’s visit that comes in the wake of the spate of civilian killings. Additional forces have been deployed, particularly in the city.

Fifty companies of additional paramilitary forces, about 5,000 troopers, are being inducted into the Valley as a precautionary measure.

Bunkers manned by CRPF forces have come up in several areas of the city as well as in other parts of Kashmir Valley, the officials said.

In preparation for the Home minister’s visit, police detained around 900 people from different parts of Kashmir valley. Those detained include former stone-pelters, relatives of militants and alleged “over ground workers” of militant outfits.

The police have also imposed an unofficial ban on the plying of two-wheelers, especially in Srinagar city. Cops have confiscated hundreds of two-wheelers, even those for which riders produced all necessary documents. (With PTI inputs)

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