Kashmir situation has taken a turn for better: PM

Kashmir situation has taken a turn for better: PM

1 February 2011
The Daily Excelsior


NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which was caught in the turbulent cycle of violence last year, has taken a turn for the better in the last four months due to steps initiated by the Centre and the State Government. 'The situation in the State has vastly improved in the last four months following the all-party visit there, the eight-point programme announced by the Government and the measures taken by the Centre and the State Government,' Dr Singh said at the Chief Ministers' conference on internal security here. He said the border State, which saw an upsurge of violence and demonstrations, particularly from stone-pelters last year, had taken a turn for the better. 'The summer of 2010 saw a troubled period in the State of Jammu and Kashmir in the form of protests, particularly by stone-pelters. This form of agitation generated a vicious cycle of violence. It is very unfortunate and sad that despite tremendous restraint shown by the security forces, many young people died and more than 1500 security personnel were injured,' he added. 'As we meet today, the situation in the Valley has improved, following the visit of the All Party Delegation to the State, the subsequent announcement of the eight-point programme by the Government and a number of positive measures jointly initiated by the Government of India and the State Government of Jammu and Kashmir. The team of Interlocutors is also trying to reach out to the various sections of the people for opening a dialogue with them,' he continued. Dr Singh said, 'As you would recall, stone pelting by youth had drawn the attention of this house to the need to develop non-lethal techniques and capacities within Central and State police organisations to respond to such forms of public protests and associated violence. I am given to understand that the Ministry of Home Affairs has prepared Standard Operating Procedures to this effect and these will be shared with the State Governments during this conference.' The efforts of three Centre-appointed Interloculors led by senior journalist Dileep Padgaonkar in changing the political discourse on Jammu and Kashmir have had an effect, he expressed satisfaction. The Prime Minister said the security forces had exercised a lot of restraint during the stone-pelting protests in view of youngsters being involved in those incidents. More than 100 people were killed during clashes with security forces in Kashmir in summer last year. Dr Singh said the Home Ministry had prepared a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to ensure non-lethal techniques are adopted by security forces, which would be shared with the Chief Ministers. Apparently exercising caution in referring to rightwing groups, Dr Singh expressed concern over threats from various sources including religious fundamentalism while Home Minister P Chidambaram spoke about 'new groups' that are suspected to be behind some terror attacks in recent years. Both of them avoided any direct reference to right wing groups which have recently come under the scanner over their alleged involvement in cases like Malegaon, Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts. '...We all need to be conscious of the fact that serious challenges and threats-primarily from left wing extremism, cross border terrorism, religious fundamentalism and ethinic violence-still persist,' Dr Singh said. The Prime Minister said he was happy to note that the National Investigative Agency, created in the aftermath of 26-11 Mumbai attacks, has gained much ground 'in unravelling the activities of new terror groups' besides unearthing the Fake Indian Currency Notes networks operating from across the borders. The Home Minister, who was complimented by the Prime Minister for better internal security situation, said 'there are a number of modules operating within the country; and new groups have raised their heads that are suspected to be behind some terrorist attacks that took place in recent years. 'We cannot shy away from naming these groups or exposing their designs. Whatever their religious affiliations, I have no hesitation in condemning every group that resorts to terror as a means of advancing dubious religious causes or fundamentalist goals. 'Our policy in this regard is clear every terrorist and every terrorist group will be pursued and brought before the law and punished,' Chidambaram said. The Home Minister's reference to saffron terror on an earlier occasion had created a controversy with BJP and RSS attacking him and some Congress leaders distancing the party from it. Both the NIA and the CBI have made considerable progress in busting the terror networks being operated by members of the RSS and other small Hindu groups who are allegedly involved in bomb blasts at Malegaon in 2006 and the Samjhauta train blasts. While listing the achivements of his Ministry in maintaining the internal security of the country, there was a word of caution from Chidambaram. 'My biggest worry, however, is that we might slide into complacency and begin to think that 'God is in heaven, and all is well with the world,' he said. Stating that Pune and Varanasi should 'jolt us out of complacency, the Home Minister added '...And the evidence that the NIA and CBI are discovering every day should serve as a wake-up call to the new sources of terror that threaten our security. Dr Singh said there can be no let up in the Government's efforts in the fight against terrorism and communal violence. The Prime Minister said as far as the Left-wing extremism was concerned, 2010 saw a decrease over the previous year in the number of incidents and casualties of security forces, though the number of casualties among civilians increased. 'Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand continue to be a cause for concern in view of the level of violence. The problems in Orissa and Maharashtra are also quite serious,' he said. Asking the Chief Ministers to consider increasing the number of joint operations by State police forces with the assistance of Central forces, Dr Singh said in the fight against the Maoists, there is a need to have a greater coordination of responses and resources between the Central and State forces. Taking an apparent dig at civil society activists, Chidambaram said in 2010, Left-wing extremists killed 718 civilians of which 323 were killed after branding them as 'police informers'. 'Unlike our security forces, the Naxalite cadres are not constrained by the rule of law or rules of conflict. In areas they dominate they act as judge, jury and executioner. 'I regret that no representative of civil society has called for an inquiry into the brutal and unlawful killing of civilians and other acts of depredation committed by the CPI (Maoist),' he said. Describing as unfortunate the death of many young people in Jammu and Kashmir during protests and stone pelting incidents in the summer of 2010, the Prime Minister said the agitation generated a vicious cycle of violence in the Valley. Dr Singh said while the Central and the State intelligence agencies were at work, there was a need to recognise the fact that the best, actionable and prompt intelligence on internal security often comes from the police stations. 'But people will come forth to give information to the local policeman, only when they see him as a friend. We need to closely examine the functioning of police stations and bring forth changes to make policemen truly people friendly. We need to take three pronged action on community policing, police reforms and informed use of technology respectively to make this happen,' he said. (Agencies)


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