Centre, J&K Form Group To Curb Militancy
31 March 2003
The Asian Age
New Delhi: The Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday decided to form a special group to review existing macro-strategies of the security forces in the state in tackling militancy, take special measures to protect pandits in the Valley and deploy multi-tiered forces along the international border and the Line of Control to check infiltration. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by deputy prime minister L.K. Advani and attended among others by Jammu and Kashmir governor G.C. Saxena, chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, defence minister George Fernandes and external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha. The meeting was convened to review the security scenario in the state in the wake of the massacre of 24 Kashmiri pandits at Naddimarg in south Kashmir. After the meeting, Union home secretary N. Gopalaswamy told the reporters that the special group, which will be headed by special secretary (Jammu & Kashmir) in home ministry A.K. Bhandari, would review the strategies of the security forces and intelligence agencies in the state. The group, which will have members from the Army, BSF, CRPF, Intelligence Bureau as well as state government and the police, would also suggest appropriate strategies to be followed to counter terrorism in the state, he added. 'The group would hold detailed discussions with concerned agencies in the state and the Centre and will also visit the state before finalising its report,' said Mr Gopalaswamy. He added that the other decisions in the meeting focused on multi-tiered, multi-modal deployment at and near the international border and the Line of Control. The meeting also decided to take action as per law against those providing support and backup to the terrorists and secessionists besides renewing integrated efforts to choke flow of funds to the terrorists, he added. When asked whether the Mufti government's healing touch policy, which has come under attack from certain quarters, came up for discussion, the Union home secretary denied any such issue was discussed and said that the meeting was called to review the security and the healing touch policy had nothing to do with the security. He said the Special Operation Group in Jammu and Kashmir was not dead, while replying to a question whether this anti-militancy force of the J&K police would be revived. 'SOG is not dead. The personnel are continuing and the operations are continuing. As far as the functioning is concerned, they function in the same way,' he said. To a question whether there was any rift between the state and the Centre over the efforts to tackle terrorism, Mr Gopalaswamy said the meeting resolved on complete harmony between the centre and the state on security related matters.