All-party meet on Pulwama attack: Opposition demands meeting with PM
New Delhi, Feb. 16 (IANS): Opposition parties on Saturday demanded a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for consultations on the Pulwama terror attack.
They made this demand at the all-party meeting that was convened by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the aftermath of the horrific attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Jammu and Kashmir that left 49 paramilitary troopers dead till Friday.
“We asked Home Minister to request the Prime Minister to hold a consultation meeting with the presidents of all national and regional parties and hold discussions with them,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters after the meeting.
Azad said Congress has extended its full support to the government to end terror. “We have disagreements with the government and there will be; but we have decided to stand with the government for the sake of country, for its safety and unity, for the safety of people and security forces,” he said.
“We are with the Army, the BSF, the CRPF, and the J&K police to end the terror.”
He said it was for the first time such a large number of security personnel had died in non-war situation since 1947.
“The nation is sad, angry. People and politicians irrespective of their religion, region, and caste are mourning,” Azad said. “Be it Kashmir or any part of the country, Congress will extend full cooperation to the government to deal with the militancy.”
Other parties also supported the demand in the meeting, he added.
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja said such a meeting should be convened to discuss the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the efforts the government was likely to take to maintain peace and normalcy in the state.
“All parties expressed condemnation of the attack and reiterated that they were firmly behind the security forces at this challenging moment,” Raja said after the all-party meeting.
The political parties also advised against any instigations against the Muslim community, he added.
Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav, Trinamool Congress’s Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O’Brien, Republican Party of India chief and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale, Congress’s Anand Sharma, Telugu Desam Party’s Ram Mohan Naidu were among the leaders present at the meeting.
The all-party meeting on Saturday also passed a resolution condemning the February 14 Pulwama attack that has claimed the lives of 49 CRPF troopers.
In the worst-ever terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy erupted in 1989, a suicide bomber on Thursday rammed his SUV packed with explosives into a CRPF bus on the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Pulwama district, killing at least 40 troopers on the spot. The toll rose to 49 on Friday as several injured succumbed.
The attack has left the security establishment stunned as it created the biggest casualty of security personnel in a single day in peace time.
Terror groups can’t hide, will be punished, warns Modi
In a strong message to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that terror groups who perpetrated the Pulwama attack, that left 49 CRPF troopers dead, cannot hide and “will be punished” as the security forces have been given a “free hand” to tackle them.
Paying tributes to two Central Reserve Police Force troopers from Maharashtra – Nitin Rathod and Sanjay Rajput from Buldhana – and others killed in the deadly attack on Thursday, Modi said the country has “complete faith and pride” in our soldiers and security forces and their sacrifices will not go in vain.
“Wherever the terror groups and the perpetrators may hide, our security forces will flush them out and punish them,” Modi said amidst cheers from the gathering of farmers and women.
Without naming Pakistan, Modi said that now, “the neighbouring country” has become synonymous with terror. “It has sheltered terrorism, but today it is on the verge of bankruptcy.”
He reiterated in both Dhule and Yavatmal that “the sins committed will not be forgiven or left unpunished”, referring to the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed which allegedly operates from safe havens in Pakistan.
Curfew in Jammu continues
Curfew in Jammu continued without any relaxation for the second consecutive day on Saturday, even as authorities said the situation was returning to normal.
“Curfew will continue till further orders. We will take a call later in the day after assessing the overall law and order situation,” said an official.
The police said the situation was under control and returning to normal without any untoward incident occurring anywhere in the city on Saturday.
The police appealed people to not pay heed to rumours spread by anti-social elements in an attempt to fan passions through fake social media posts.
The police also warned of stern action against rumour mongers using social media to stoke passions.
Curfew was imposed in the city on Friday after miscreants torched some vehicles and damaged several others carrying number plates of Kashmir Valley in protest against the Pulwama terror attack.
The army was called to assist the civil administration to restore order in the city on Friday.
Suspension of mobile internet services, which began on Friday, continued on Saturday as well. The speed of fixed-line broadband connections has also been lowered to prevent any form of amplification of the situation given that anti-social elements could upload inflammatory pictures and comments on social media to disturb peace in the city.
Curfew, initially imposed in some areas, was later extended to the entire city as tension mounted in the wake of violence against a particular section of the society.