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Kashmir Continues To Burn, Toll Rises To 30

Clashes continued in the Kashmir Valley on Monday, even as two more people succumbed to injuries incurred in the violence over the weekend, bringing the number of those killed to 30. More than 250 are injured.

The Union government decided to send 800 additional paramilitary forces to the trouble-torn region, while Home Minister Rajnath Singh reached out to opposition leaders, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former chief minister Omar Abdullah, to build national consensus on the issue in the run-up to the monsoon session of Parliament. National Security Advisor A K Doval cut short his Africa visit and returned home. He had accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Normal life remained paralysed for a third day due to curfew-like restrictions and separatist-sponsored calls for bandhs. Mobile internet services continued to remain suspended. Kashmir has witnessed violent protests in the past few days after security forces killed a militant leader, 21-year-old Burhan Wani, in an encounter on Friday.

According to sources tracking the latest developments in Kashmir, reports of violence have come in from far-flung areas of the Valley. They termed it worrisome that most of these areas have seldom reported this level of violence by common Kashmiris.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti asked her ministers and government officials to reach out to the public in the Valley. In New Delhi, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders conceded that Mehbooba Mufti's Peoples Democratic Party-BJP alliance government was under strain but ruled out any severing of ties. Union ministers and officials at a meeting chaired by the home minister asked security forces to make "judicious" use of force and ensure smooth movement of Amarnath pilgrims.

The Jammu and Kashmir government said about 1,000 vehicles carrying essential commodities were on their way to the Valley. There were sufficient stocks of ration and life-saving drugs. "About 1000 vehicles carrying essential commodities, on the way to the Valley, will reach their destinations by tomorrow (Tuesday) morning," Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Choudhary Zulfkar Ali said at a high-level meeting here.

In a statement, Gandhi said there can be no compromise on matters relating to national security and terrorism must be dealt with firmly. She noted that the political process has made many gains in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly over the last two decades, and "these must not get lost." She asked the people of the Valley to allow the political parties find "durable and enduring ways of fulfilling their aspirations meaningfully in a peaceful and democratic manner." Abdullah-led National Conference in alliance with the Congress had run a government in the Valley from 2009 to 2015.

In Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister PM Nawaz Sharif expressed “deep shock" at the killing of Wani and use of “excessive force" by Indian security forces. The ministry of external affairs in New Delhi said statements originating from Pakistan on the killing of Wani reflected its “continued attachment to terrorism".

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