PM Panel On Kashmir To Meet Tomorrow On Relocation Of Troops
23 July 2007
The Times of India
New Delhi: The panel set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into the relocation of troops in Jammu and Kashmir will meet here on Tuesday ahead of giving final touches to the report to be submitted to Defence Minister A K Antony. The panel, headed by Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt, is likely to favour immediate withdrawal of troops from orchards and schools or payment of compensation for such deployment as demanded by state Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Dutt, who is retiring on July 31, will submit its report to the Defence Minister before demitting office, official sources said. The meeting will be attended among others by senior officials of Home and Defence Ministries and Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Kuldeep Khoda. According to the sources, the panel was expected to favour relocation of troops from orchards, schools and hospitals with immediate effect or the payment of compensation to people wherever this is not possible for the time being. Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad too has favoured such a course of action. Azad made a strong case to this effect during his meeting with Dutt who was in Srinagar last week to review the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Azad, who has been releasing civilian property occupied by paramilitary forces and the army since he took over in 2005, had sought immediate compensation for owners of orchards taken over by the security forces. The panel, which comprises officials from paramilitary forces, the army, defence and home ministries, is likely to recommend payment of compensation forthwith and on a regular basis, the sources said.