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PM steps in to diffuse Kashmir tension

New Delhi, June 30 (Calcutta Tube) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday presided over a high level meeting to review the turbulent situation in the Kashmir Valley and the government is hopeful the situation will normalise with strict security measures being enforced, Home Minister Chidambaram said.

‘We have asked the chief minister (Omar Abdullah) and other ministers to visit the disturbed areas to take some political action, along with the action taken by security forces,’ Chidambaram told reporters after the one-hour-long meeting at Manmohan Singh’s residence.

The meeting was attended by Chidambaram, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and senior officials of both ministries and chiefs of the security and intelligence agencies.

‘We are confident that normalcy will be restored in a few days’ in the Valley, Chidambaram said.

He said the meeting ‘appreciated the statement of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah which has largely corrected some wrongs impressions’.

Abdullah Tuesday made an emotional appeal for peace, vowing to ensure return of normalcy soon and slammed anti-national and vested interests for instigating violence.

Kashmir has been rocked by street violence and retaliation by the security forces for the past two weeks, resulting in the killing of 11 civilians, mostly teenagers, and imposition of curfew in many parts of the valley.

Chidambaram said 53 paramilitary personnel, including an inspector, have been injured.

He said the central government has repeated the directive to paramilitary forces to exercise maximum restraint while dealing with rioting mobs and stone pelters.

‘The central government remains committed to assist the state government in restoring the nomalcy’ in the violence-hit Kashmir valley, he said.

The home minister hoped that the annual Amarnath pilgrimage ‘will go off peacefully’.

‘Full protection will be given to (pilgrims). We hope nobody in Jammu and Kashmir will allow himself or herself to be misled even remotely to disrupt the yatra,’ he said.

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