A day after the Indian army chief visited violence-hit Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has landed in the state in a bid to restore calm. This is his second visit since the region plunged into chaos in July.
Amid spiralling criticism over the use of excessive force by Indian security personnel, the leaders have urged them to show restraint.
Even as Singh arrived, a youth was killed by security forces in clashes in Pulwama district. As many as 20 others were injured.
Singh will hold several rounds of talks with members of civil society and top politicians in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. However, Singh will hold no discussions with separatists, who are primarily behind the upheaval. Ahead of his visit, Singh wrote on Twitter that he "shall interact with civil society groups, political parties and other stakeholders".
"During Rajnath's last visit, people said once calm returns to the valley, the minister will forget about listening to voices from Kashmir. But the minister promised he will keep coming back to the valley to hear what the Kashmiris want to say. Therefore, he is going back there again," a home ministry official was cited as saying.
Indian army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag left Kashmir on Tuesday (23 August). Accompanied by top army authorities overseeing the region, he held an interactive session with local leaders discussing ways to return calm to the valley. In a statement following the discussions, the Indian army said: "The youth expressed their whole-hearted desire for peace to return and pledged their support for all welfare activities being carried out by the army."
Fighting and clashes broke out in Indian-administered Kashmir in July after popular separatist leader Burhan Wani, also a commander of an extremist organisation, was killed by security forces. The federal government has imposed a severe clampdown on Kashmir since the incident as curfew remains in force for the 46th day. As many as 68 people have been killed so far in Kashmir and more than 1,000 others injured.