Pranab Visits J&K, Rules Out Demilitarisation
9 May 2006
The Indian Express
Jammu: In a setback for the Hurriyat Conference on a 'positive response' from the Centre to their demand of demilitrisation before the second roundtable conference at Srinagar on May 25, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today rejected any possibility of complete withdrawal of troops from J&K. This morning, Mukherjee, who, along with CM Ghulam Nabi Azad visited Basantgarh and Kulhand where militants had massacred 32 people recently, said: 'I want to make it clear that we are not talking of demilitarisation. We have not militarised any zone so there is no question of demilitrisation.' At the same time, Mukherjee suggested Pakistan to act on the promise made to India that it will not allow its land for terrorist activities. 'We have confirmed information that 59 training camps are running on the other side of the LoC,' he said. 'Pakistan has to ensure that their land is not being used for cross-border terrorist activities,' he added. He said the government would review the increase in terrorist- related incidents in remote areas of J&K. He indicated that Village Defence Committees (VDC) will be given sophisticated weapons to counter terrorism. On media reports on the presence of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida in Pakistan, Mukherjee said he did not want to comment on the internal affairs of that country. On the recent massacre, he said, 'The trend noticed in terrorist activities is that whenever there is some dialogue or peace initiative they commit such acts.' He, however, said it would not affect the roundtable conference.