India

Amit Shah In J&K Today On 3-Day Visit. First Since Article 370 Scrapped

Amit Shah In J&K Today On 3-Day Visit. First Since Article 370 Scrapped

Amit Shah is also scheduled to inaugurate a Srinagar-Sharjah flight today

Srinagar:

Union Home Minister Amit Shah landed in Jammu and Kashmir Saturday morning for a three-day visit - his first since he led the government's charge to scrap Article 370 in August two years ago.

He was received at Srinagar airport by J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. 

After landing the Home Minister visited the family of J&K police officer Inspector Parvez Ahmad, who was killed by terrorists this month. Mr Shah has offered Mr Ahmad's wife a government job.

Amit Shah's visit comes amid heightened tension in J&K following the targeted killing of civilians; 11 - including Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs - have been killed this month, triggering panic among migrant workers and the Kashmiri Pandit community, some of whom have already fled.

He is expected to chair a meeting of the Unified Command to review the on-ground situation.

Sources told the review will include following up on tasks given to agencies during a meeting in Delhi last month. Sources also said Mr Shah's focus will also be on addressing increased infiltrations.

Mr Shah is further expected to inaugurate a Srinagar-Sharjah flight.

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Amit Shah at the home of J&K police officer Parvez Ahmad

On Sunday, he will travel to Jammu to address a public rally, and on Monday, he is likely to meet village heads to address their concerns before flying back to Delhi.

The civilian killings have prompted extra precautions for Mr Shah's visit, with fortifications in a 20 km radius around Raj Bhavan (where he will stay) on Srinagar's Gupkar Road.

Drones were spotted Friday to keep track of suspicious movement and the CRPF monitored activity on Dal Lake and parts of the Jhelum River that flows through the interior of the city.

"Regular area domination exercises are being carried out. Also, flash nakas are being organised," CRPG's Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Mathew A John told.

"Snipers and sharpshooters have been deployed at strategic places. Vehicles are being checked and pedestrians frisked. Not to harass the public but for their safety too," he added.

The killing of civilians has been linked to Pakistan-backed outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba; an outfit called The Resistance Front, blamed for some of the deaths, has been linked to Lashkar.

This week J&K police said four Lashkar terrorists linked to the deaths of civilians - three migrant workers - had been killed after encounters in Shopian and Kulgam districts.

Last week two other terrorists - involved in the killing of a civilian and a cop - were killed in back-to-back encounters in Srinagar and Pulwama. According to police, one of those killed was involved in the death of Mohammad Shafi in Srinagar on October 2.

17 terrorists have been killed during 11 encounters in the last two weeks, according to Vijay Kumar, Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Kashmir.

The attacks on civilians has come at a time when the Army is engaged in one of the longest and toughest anti-terror ops in recent times.. Yesterday there was heavy firing in the Poonch sector as the Army hunted down terrorists hiding in the forests there for the past 12 days. 

Army and police sources have said the fierceness of the fighting has led to speculation the terrorists may have been trained by Pak commandos. Nine soldiers have been killed in action so far.