PDP leaders, ministers surrender security cover
6 February 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
Jammu: Pressing for a troop reduction in Jammu and Kashmir, former chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, his daughter, People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti, as well as the party's ministers and legislators Tuesday asked the state government to withdraw their security guards.'I am writing this letter to request you to please withdraw my personal security and that of Member of Parliament Mehbooba Mufti with immediate effect,' Sayeed said in a letter to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, copies of which were circulated to media.He was responding to Azad's statement in the state assembly Monday that the time was not yet right for demilitarisation in the state though the security scenario had definitely improved here.Azad had said he would 'within 24 hours write to New Delhi to remove troops from the state' if the legislators issued a joint statement saying that they don't require security guards. In his letter, written Tuesday from his New Delhi residence, Sayeed noted that a dignified solution to the Kashmir issue could come only through dialogue and peaceful means.'We have been suggesting a gradual reduction of forces, empowerment of the state police and withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. This view is gaining momentum across the subcontinent and would help in early restoration of peace and improvement of the human rights situation,' he said in the two-page letter.Mufti ridiculed Azad for linking the acceptance of these suggestions to personal security arrangements of the political leaders who propose them.'Personal security is a subject completely separate from the general law and order and political situation of a place. This is nothing peculiar to Jammu and Kashmir and public personalities are protected everywhere by the state irrespective of all circumstances.'Following their top leaders, the seven ministers and 26 legislators of the PDP held a meeting in Jammu late Tuesday evening and then wrote to the chief minister that their security be withdrawn. Basharat Bukhari, party spokesperson and member of the legislative council, told IANS that their decision was in the overall interest of the state, 'for we want the people of the state to feel a sense of security and the kinds of fake encounters that we have seen in the past few days come to an end.'