India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who chaired a high-level security meeting over the tense situation in Kashmir owing to the latest clashes, has appealed for calm in the troubled northern state. He also promised all assistance to the local government to tackle the situation. The meeting was held within hours of Modi returning to New Delhi from his Africa tour
Clashes between protesters and security forces during the last few days have killed as many as 30 people and left 800 injured. Fighting broke out after the shooting of a 22-year-old key separatist figure, Burhan Wani.
"He [Modi] has appealed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to maintain peace so that the situation can normalise. He also expressed hope that no innocent person should face any kind of inconvenience or loss," said Jitendra Singh from the Prime Minister's Office, according to the Indian Express. Home Minister Rajnath Singh cancelled a scheduled trip to the US to deal with the situation.
"The prime minister kept taking updates about the Jammu and Kashmir situation during his visit abroad. The biggest evidence of his concern is that he called this review meeting within hours of returning from the tour and took details," added the minister from the Modi's office. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar were also part of the discussions.
In addition to the prime minister's remarks, India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to issue a sharp rebuke to Pakistan, which had attacked India over the clashes in Kashmir. Following the death of Wani, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif eulogised him to which India responded asking Islamabad to "refrain from interfering" in the internal affairs of India.
UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has also expressed serious concerns over the volatile situation prevailing in the Kashmir region. In a statement, Ban's office said: "The secretary-general is closely following the recent clashes in Kashmir. He regrets the reported loss of dozens of lives and the injuries to many others."
India and Pakistan are going through a mixed phase in their relations in recent times. Efforts to resume talks between the two nuclear-armed neighbours have been stalled by terror strikes in India, which New Delhi blames on terrorists operating from Pakistani soil. The two countries have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947, and two have been over Kashmir.