Rajnath terms killing of civilians as unfortunate, announces ex gratia relief

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Srinagar, Oct 23: Terming the killing of seven civilians in a blast that took place near an encounter site in south Kashmir district of Kulgam on Sunday as unfortunate, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday announced ex gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh each for the families of deceased.
Besides regional mainstream political leaders, Singh is the first union minister, who expressed grief over the killing of the civilians in Kulgam.
However, the Union Home Minister, who was on a day-long visit to the state, once again urged the people not to go towards the areas where security forces are conducting an operation.
“It is very unfortunate that civilians were killed in Kulgam. It has come to my notice that the operation was over and security forces had been withdrawn from the area. But, unfortunately a blast took place there (near the encounter site) that resulted in loss of lives,” Singh told reporters during a press conference here on Tuesday.
“I express by heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. Money can’t be a substitute for lives, but we will provide the families of the deceased with an assistance of Rs 5 lakh each,” he added.
But, the Union Home Minister refused to answer a question about the reason behind local people in thousands flocking to encounter sites in the valley.
Singh’s statement comes in the backdrop of tense situation in the valley, particularly in south Kashmir, over the civilian killings in Kulgam blast. Meanwhile, normal life remained crippled in entire south Kashmir for the second successive day on Tuesday due to a strike against the killings.
Three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants were killed in an encounter by security forces at village Laroo in Kulgam on Sunday. However, immediately after the encounter was over, large number of people gathered there during which a blast took place leaving seven persons dead and scores injured.