Army May Be Withdrawn Next Week: Omar

Army May Be Withdrawn Next Week: Omar

10 July 2010
The Hindu


Srinagar: The Army, which was deployed in certain parts of Srinagar four days ago to assist the civil administration, may be withdrawn from the streets early next week, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told PTI on Saturday. The State government was using the Army on the “extreme periphery” and not more than six or eight columns were used so far. “So far they came out only on two days. The Army did not come out yesterday [Friday]. We deployed them twice. The first day we deployed them a little more than the second day. On the second day, we deployed them near the airport and on the foreshore road.” Conceding that it was the most difficult decision for him to seek army assistance from the Centre, the 40-year-old Chief Minister said it was one decision he would not like to repeat in his term. Asked when his government would consider withdrawing the Army, which was called out on Tuesday night after the escalation in violence in the Valley, Mr. Abdullah said it would be done when the government had that level of confidence. “The situation is being monitored on a daily basis. We will consider that option after July 13 and take a decision,” he said in a reference to the observance of Martyrs' Day, which is commemorated in memory of those who died fighting the Dogra rule. Mr. Abdullah ruled out quitting the post and dismissed speculation that his father and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah would step into his shoes. He declined to comment on suggestions that he and his father should swap places and on reports questioning whether he enjoyed the support of his party, the National Conference. Appeal to parties Asking the political parties to stop playing a “divisive” role, the Chief Minister said the decision of seeking the Army's help was taken after thorough consultations with coalition partners, Cabinet Ministers and authorities in a bid to prevent any further loss of innocent lives. “I have always welcomed healthy criticism but I am averse to criticism which stinks of divisive politics. I do not wish to see trouble on streets but the situation on Tuesday was tense,” he said. “I have police force and paramilitary personnel who are overstretched because of the ongoing Amarnath Yatra. I cannot withdraw from my Counter Insurgency Grid because that will give a chance to terrorists to enter the mainland in the Valley. Therefore, my government, after consulting with State and Central leaders, decided to seek the Army's help for assisting in maintenance of law and order.” Asked about the intercepts of a conversation among a few Hurriyat leaders indicating that they were engineering killings of innocents, he declined to comment. “At present I need peace for the State. These issues can be worked out later.”


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