Kashmir politicians play politics on Chennai tourist killed in stone-pelting

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Jammu, May 8: A day after a tourist from Chennai became a victim of stone-pelting and lost his life in Srinagar, Kashmir-centric parties and separatists have started playing politics on the issue. Even as seven tourists from Kerala sustained injuries last week due to stone-pelting incidents, no political party or separatist leader has so far said anything against the miscreants who have been allowed a free run in the Valley.
While chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was on Tuesday silent on the steps her government would initiate to rein in those involved in stone pelting, she reiterated her demand from Prime Minister Narendera Modi to initiate a “meaningful dialogue” to solve the problem.
Pro-Pakistan separatist leader Syed Alishah Geelani, who has openly incited stone-pelters, has not said a word yet on the young tourist’s death but extended by another day his call for a shutdown in Kashmir to protest the killing of five terrorists and an equal number of stone-pelters during an encounter in Shopian on Sunday.
National Conference Working president Omar Abdullah was the only one among the Kashmiri leaders who openly called these stone-pelters “goons”.
Omar tweeted: “This young man from Chennai died in my constituency & while I don’t support these goons, their methods or their ideology I’m deeply, deeply sorry that this happened at all & that too in an area I’ve been proud to represent since 2014”. “We’ve killed a tourist by throwing stones at the vehicle he was travelling in. Let’s try and wrap our heads around the fact that we stoned a tourist, a guest, to death while we glorify these stone pelters & their methods,” he said in another strongly-worded tweet aimed at the separatists.
Attacking Modi and the BJP-PDP coalition government in J&K, Omar fired another tweet saying: “The JK Govt has failed, the CM has failed, the BJP-PDP alliance has failed. How much blood will have to be shed in Kashmir before the Hon PM realizes the gravity of the situation in J&K? When will enough finally be enough?”
Mehbooba, who visited the Srinagar hospital on Monday night to express sympathies with the father of R Thirumani, the 22-year-old tourist who died, tweeted on Tuesday: “Without a sustained, meaningful dialogue & outreach, not just from the Govt but from the entire country, J&K will get pushed deeper into this vortex of gloom. My deepest condolences to the deceased’s family & my prayers go out to the girl who was injured in the same incident.”
“Its truly heartbreaking when a family saves for years to realize their dream of visiting Kashmir & while they are here they face their worst nightmare. I have no words strong enough to condemn this tragic incident or even begin to condole the family,” she said in another tweet.
Mehbooba had said on Monday “my head hangs in shame” after meeting Thirumani’s father. Thirumani had suffered head injuries caused by stones hurled at him by stone-pelters when the family was proceeding to the famous tourist destination of Gulmarg. His father broke down when Mehbooba reached the hospital to meet him.
J&K Director General of Police SP Vaid called the incident unfortunate and requested the people to help the police nab the violent protesters. “This is the last thing we wanted Kashmir to see. People of Kashmir are known as good hosts. I request the civil society and all elders to identify such people and hand them over to Police,” he said. (Courtesy: TS)