| Shivraj Patil in Udhampur on Tuesday. (PTI)
Jammu, May 2: Hundreds of troops were deployed to hunt down militants in remote mountains after 35 Hindus were killed over two days in Jammu in one of the worst massacres in the region in years.
The troop deployment began as a general strike called to protest the killings shut down the Jammu region, which already has nearly half a million soldiers and policemen on vigil. “We are definitely augmenting troop levels to prevent easier movement of militants in these areas,” a senior police officer told Reuters.
Yesterday, militants shot dead 22 Hindus in two villages in the mountains of Doda district, 170 km northeast of Jammu. The same day, nine bullet-riddled bodies of Hindus were found in the neighbouring district of Udhampur. Four more bodies had been found in the same area on Sunday.
Today, Union home minister Shivraj Patil toured the massacre site in Udhampur, promising better protection to the people, especially the minorities in the state.
Patil made it clear that the Centre was in no mood to consider the Hurriyat Conference’s proposal of demilitarisation in Kashmir. The Hurriyat would get “our (the government’s) proper reply” if it raised the issue of demilitarisation at tomorrow’s meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said.
The minister said the security forces were required in Jammu and Kashmir for the protection of its people. “They were needed here for fighting these kinds of acts of terror.”
BJP chief Rajnath Singh, who concluded his national integration yatra on Sunday, also visited the state.
He charged the UPA government with failing to protect the people of Kashmir and demanded President’s rule in the state.
“It would be in the national interest if President’s rule is imposed sooner than later in this lawless state,” he said. “I am aghast the way people were without any security and till late Monday morning no official reached the affected areas. This shows bankruptcy of the government. It was a callous attitude.”
At Basantgarh in Udhampur, while consoling the families of 13 slain shepherds, the home minister said: “Additional arrangements for their protection would be made in the mountainous areas and their security needs would be reviewed.”
He assured that the militants behind the massacre would be brought to book and also promised a police probe.
Separatist leaders Shabir Shah and Yasin Malik visited Kulhan in Doda district, where 22 people were killed yesterday.