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Fresh clashes erupt in Kishtwar, locals defy curfew, minister resigns

Fresh clashes erupt in Kishtwar,  locals defy curfew, minister resigns
Despite a slew of announcements made by the Omar Abdullah government including the sacking of minister of state for home Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo, the situation continued to remain tense in Kishtwar and neighbouring districts of Jammu division on Monday. According to reports coming from Kishtwar, four persons, including two policemen, were injured in fresh clashes which broke out on Monday as residents defied curfew to protest against the arrest of a youth for his alleged involvement in Friday’s communal violence in the area.

Trouble erupted when police tried to stop protesters from marching to the Hidyal area of the town after defying curfew, which entered its fourth day on Monday. The protesters blamed local MLA Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo, who resigned on Monday from his post of the Jammu and Kashmir minister of state for home, for the disturbances in the area. They also slammed a DSP for targeting innocent youths.
BJP had demanded that Kitchloo be removed pending an impartial inquiry on his alleged role in the riots in Kishtwar.
Two cops were injured in the clashes along with two others as police resorted to a lathi-charge and teargas shelling. They also reportedly fired in the air to bring the situation under control. According to reports, Additional Superintendent of Police Kulbir Singh and a selection grade constable sustained injuries in the clashes.

The curfew has been in place in Kishtwar since Friday, when communal violence erupted in the town resulting in the killing of three persons with several others injured. In a related incident, four other policemen were injured on Sunday night in Kishtwar when unknown miscreants attacked their vehicle and set it on fire.

Meanwhile, under pressure to come out with truth on what happened in Kishtwar town on
the day of Eid celebrations, Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday decided to order a judicial inquiry into the communal clashes.

‘In order to establish the truth behind the Kishtwar violence and what followed, the state government has decided to order a judicial inquiry,’ chief minister Omar Abdullah wrote on micro-blogging site twitter.com. The chief minister said the inquiry will be held by a retired judge of the High Court and its outcome will be made public. The decision was taken at a high-level ministerial meeting chaired by the chief minister in Jammu on Monday. Abdullah, while assuring that justice
will be done, had urged people to dismiss rumours about the situation in Kishtwar and other affected areas.

Meanwhile, curfew remained in force in six districts of Jammu region on Monday amid deployment of Army even as ten people were arrested in connection with communal clashes in Kishtwar. However, in Udhampur district, a two-hour relaxation in curfew was given in the morning which passed off peacefully, an official said.

‘Curfew continues in several districts of Jammu region. The situation is limping back to normalcy. No untoward incident has been reported from anywhere,’ Divisional Commissioner, Jammu region, Shantmanu told a agency. He said curfew was relaxed in Udhampur for two-hours from 6 am to 8 am that passed off peacefully.
‘A total of 68 shops, seven hotels and 35 vehicles have been damaged during the untoward incidents and three causalities have been reported so far (in communal violence in Kishtwar district),’ Shantmanu added.

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