New Delhi, August 15: The recent outbreak of violence in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir was a localised conflagration, and was not provoked by cross border terrorism, the Union Cabinet was told on Tuesday by Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, The Hindu reported.
Chidambaram was standing in for Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who is recuperating after a surgery.
Chidambaram briefed his Cabinet colleagues after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked him to do so after the agenda items had been discussed.
The newspaper while quoting government sources said the Finance Minister said tension had been building up in the area for a while, partly due to the growing activities of the Bajrang Dal, the militant wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
The Hindu report said that Union Health Minister and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad then spoke at length, providing a historical perspective to the incident: even in 1947, Kishtwar had been unaffected by Partition, and it was therefore a matter of concern, he said, that it should have been affected by communal violence now.
He also added that of the 10 districts in the Jammu region, six were Muslim-dominated, while the other four had a larger Hindu population–and therefore, could fall prey to troublemakers.
However, Azad stressed that if the Army had not been called in time, it could have been a lot worse.
Finally, Union Minister for new and renewable energy Farooq Abdullah spoke of the need to weed out undesirable elements from the Village Defence Committees who, he said, had also added to the communal incidents.
The VDCs, manned by locals designated as Special Police Officers, were initially set up to protect villagers from militant incursions, but over the years, many members of the VDCs have deteriorated into armed vigilantes.