Time not ripe for demilitarisation: Azad
4 March 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said that time was not ripe for demilitarisation in the State.' Addressing a public meeting at Salamabad in Uri, about 100 km from here in north Kashmir yesterday, Mr Azad said once peace was visible on the ground in the State, withdrawal of troops will automatically follow. 'Immediate demilitarization was not possible when innocent people are being killed,' he said, adding that peace was not visible in Kashmir despite people desperately yearning for it. For withdrawal of troops, peace is a pre-condition, he added. Lauding the security forces for their work during all these years, he said they are deployed in the State for the safety and security of the people. Without naming the coalition partner in the Government, People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the separatist organisations, Mr Azad said those demanding withdrawal or reduction of troops should take into account the ground situation before making such a demand. 'Who will guarantee if there is a flare up in the militancy once the troops are withdrawn,' he asked, adding they have to guarantee the safety and security of common people. Mr Azad said after resuming the bus services between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), people were eager in favour of starting the truck service. 'We are ready but Pakistan is creating hurdles,' he said and expressed the hope that the service will be started soon. About the peace process between India and Pakistan, he said it was moving towards right direction. He said those opposing the ongoing dialogue process between the two countries will not be allowed to succeed. Earlier, Mr Azad accompanied by Chief Justice Basheer Ahmad Khan laid the foundation stone of Primary Health Centre at Salamabad, Uri. Rs. 28.20 lakh project has been fully funded from Chief Justice’s Relief Fund and will be completed within six months. The Chief Minister expressed gratitude to the Central Government, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Army in particular for their support and assistance provided to undo sufferings of the people of devastating earthquake that rocked various areas of the State like Uri, Tangdhar and Poonch. He said that Rs 586 crores have been distributed as relief to the affected people in Baramulla, Kupwara and Poonch districts adding that Rs 178 crores were provided in Uri alone for cases like damaged house, relief to quake victims and injured persons. He said Central assistance has been unprecedented and Rs 1.35 lakh were provided for fully damaged houses in each case as against Rs 25000 provided at other places of the country. Mr. Azad asserted that attention will be focused on infrastructure as 98 per cent affected people have been provided the relief. The remaining two percent would receive the third installment soon. He said that a proposal of Rs. 137 crore has been forwarded to the Centre for assistance to undertake massive infrastructure development in earthquake affected areas. He expressed hope that soon the assistance will be available for public service infrastructure building for drinking water, power, schools, hospital and other public utilities. During next one and a half year, these schemes would be completed to give a new look to the entire areas that have been destructed by the earthquake in October 2005. The Chief Minister expressed gratitude to the Chief Justice for giving a mechanism of Lok Adalats for smooth distribution of relief to the affected people. He said given the magnitude of the damage it would have been a cumbersome exercise to distribute relief but for the support and assistance of the Chief Justice of J&K in particular and his team in general have made it easy. He said by organizing Lok Adalats in the affected areas itself, the Judiciary had done a yeomen service to the people. On this occasion, Chief Justice Mr. Justice B.A. Khan presented a cheque of Rs. 42 lakh to the Chief Minister out of Relief Fund for reconstruction programme in earthquake affected areas. In his address, Chief Justice said that the judiciary joined hands with administration for public welfare and to provide assistance to the earthquake affected people.