Entrusting law & order to J&K police ultimate aim31 January 2010
The Daily Excelsior
NEW DELHI: The Government today said its long-term aim in Kashmir was to entrust the responsibility of law and order to local police and bring normalcy there. 'As far as policy is concerned, we are very clear. Our ultimate aim is to bring normalcy in Kashmir and entrust law and order to Kashmir police itself. The Army can safely safeguard the border. That is our long-term aim,' Defence Minister A K Antony said after awarding prizes to the best tableaux of Republic Day here. Antony was replying to a question on whether the Government will back out of its plan to move out troops from the Valley as there has been a rise in violence in the last two months and cross-border infiltration has increased. The Minister said the policy of the Government was not ad-hoc and decisions are taken after careful considerations, after discussion with various stakeholders like the State Government and the central agencies. ‘‘Last few months, there is an attempt from enemies across the border for more infiltration. But at the same time, on the whole, the situation in Kashmir is improving,' Antony said. He said by and large the law and order situation in Kashmir is now much better as compared to previous years and violence has come down. Antony said everybody knew that Kashmir was gradually returning to normalcy but warned that there are forces who do not like the fast improvement in the situation. 'There are forces who do not like the fast improvement. That is why they are doubling their attempt to have violence, to have more infiltration. Our security forces are meeting that effectively,' Antony said. To a question about the build-up in the North-East and Ladakh region, he said it was not a build-up but only an effective deterrent. 'We have to be always vigilant especially when the security scenario around us is not that good. We are trying to strengthen our security wherever needed to the extent that the country is always assured that there is effective deterrent in the country. We are building up an effective deterrent, nothing else,' the Minister said. Antony said India was not a 'war mongering country' and wants to live in peace with its neighbours. 'That is why inspite of provocations at times we are still trying to improve our relations with our neighbours. But certain things cannot move forward unless action is taken by the neighbours,' he said. The Minister said that even though the country was not for any kind of confrontation on its own, it has to be on guard always looking at the security scenario around. 'As a policy, we do not want confrontation. But at the same time we are ever ready to meet any challenges from any quarter against our national security. We have to protect every inch of our land. Unless national security is strengthened, there cannot be any peace in the country,' Antony said. Meanwhile, terming the Sukhna land scam allegedly involving a top Army officer as an 'aberration', Antony said it will not tolerate even a single instance of corruption in the armed forces. 'What happened in Sukhna and in some other cases are aberrations... Already, the Army has taken strong action. I do not want to say anything further... We cannot tolerate even a single instance of corruption,' Antony said. Antony’s statement comes days after he asked Army chief General Deepak Kapoor to initiate disciplinary action against Lt Gen Awadesh Prakash, Military Secretary in the Army, who has been indicted in the Sukhna land scam. Disciplinary action could lead to a court martial against Lt Gen Prakash, who is in the dock in the scam along with two other Lieutenant Generals and a Major General. The Minister downplayed corruption in the Army saying, 'armed forces have a much better system of correcting things and punishing the guilty.' The Defence Minister said, 'You should compare what is going on around. Compared to many other institutions, armed forces and Army are doing much better to take action and correct aberrations in the system.' The Defence Minister asked to look at the positive aspect of the armed forces and its traditions, saying the sacrifices made by jawans and the officers must also be looked at. 'Our jawans and officers are sacrificing their life, their blood, their health to protect every inch of our territory, to safeguard border security. We must salute them and protect their honour,' he said. Lt Gen Prakash, considered close to the Army chief, retired today. Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen V K Singh, the Army chief designate, had recommended tough action against Lt Gen Prakash and other accused officers on the basis of a Court of Inquiry which indicted them for issuing a no-objection certificate (NOC) for sale of a 71-acre land adjacent to Sukna military station in West Bengal’s Darjeeling. The Army chief had earlier ordered only administrative action against Lt Gen Prakash wherein the court martial was not a requirement. Prakash was issued a show-cause notice to which he had replied.