Panel Finalises Report On Troop Reduction In J&K
24 July 2007
New Delhi: The committee appointed by the Prime Minister to examine the possibility of relocating troops in Jammu and Kashmir finalised its recommendations on Tuesday. The committee, headed by Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt, will submit its recommendations to Defence Minister A. K. Antony. The Minister is scheduled to visit Kashmir later this week for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. The panel is part of a mechanism set up by the Centre to examine some of the problematic aspects of the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides the Dutt panel, the mechanism comprises a review committee that will review the application of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in different areas of the State and a high- power committee, headed by the Defence Minister, to take decisions on the recommendations made by the expert panel and the review committee. The panel, headed by Mr. Dutt, includes representatives from the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, the armed forces and the State Government. It has been mandated to carry out an in-depth assessment of the situation and determine whether there is a need to relocate and reconfigure the security forces. The panel has been asked to ensure that cardinal aspects of security are not compromised in any manner. The panel on AFSPA conforms to legal requirements for a periodic review of the application of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. The State Government had initiated action to return several of the property, buildings and orchards occupied by the security forces for logistic purposes. A nodal officer will survey the remaining property occupied by the troops and determine how many more of these could be restored to their owners. If this is not possible, the compensation to be paid will be determined in consultation with the State Government. The BJP, reacting to the meeting of the panel and reports of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's interaction with the former Jammu and Kashmir Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, said it was totally opposed to any troop reduction in the State. 'National security must not be compromised for the compulsions of coalition politics,' party's spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said here on Tuesday.