Centre to withdraw 52 para-military companies from J&K for elections

Centre to withdraw 52 para-military companies from J&K for elections

17 January 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: The Union Government has decided to withdraw 52 companies of para-military from Jammu and Kashmir for deployment in five poll bound States. Withdrawal of the companies would start immediately and completed in a week’s time. This has been conveyed to the State Government. Official sources said the Central Government, in fact, wanted withdrawal of over 60 para-military companies from Jammu and Kashmir to deploy them in five States going to Assembly elections in February. The States included Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Manipur and Goa. The State authorities initially offered to spare 30 to 40 training companies of para-military but finally settled for 52 with the condition that an equal number of companies would be returned after elections are over in five States. A high level meeting called by Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi in New Delhi today with top brass of 10 States including five going to elections and five others being their neighbours, discussed a series of measures required to be undertaken by the neighbouring States to ensure peaceful elections. Punjab, which shared borders with Jammu and Kashmir is also going to elections. Jammu and Kashmir was represented in the meeting by Chief Secretary Madhav Lal, Principal Secretary, Home, BR Sharma and Director General of Police (DGP) Kuldeep Khoda. Mr Sharma also happened to be Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the State. Mr Quraishi was accompanied in the meeting by two Election Commissioners-V S Sampath and H S Brahma. Sources said top brass of five election bound States and their five neighbouring States attended the meeting. Mr Quraishi directed the top brass of J&K’s civil and police administration to ensure that all check points bordering Punjab were sealed. He asked the authorities to keep a strict vigil on flow of cash, liquor and drugs to the election bound State. Police authorities were also told to ensure that militants and criminals didn’t venture to infiltrate from Jammu and Kashmir to Punjab. Worthwhile to mention here that the explosives used to trigger blast outside Delhi High Court on September 7 last year that took 15 lives and left several injured and a consignment of explosives, seized from a car at Ambala in Haryana later, had allegedly been smuggled from Jammu and Kashmir. The Election Commission issued similar directions to all five States going to elections and their neighbouring States, sources said, adding the top brass of civil and police administration assured the full Election Commission that they would implement the directions issued by the Commission. According to sources, Mr Quraishi called for enhanced co-operation between the election bound and neighbouring States in all matters especially the sharing of Intelligence inputs. Several other election related issues also figured in the meeting. Though the militancy has died down in Punjab, there were reports that attempts were being made to target the State during the ongoing election process. The possibility of some of the militants from Jammu and Kashmir trying to strike at Punjab was not ruled out. This was the second high level meeting of the State Government officials in New Delhi in less than a week. Prior to it, Union Home Secretary RK Singh had called the high level meeting on Jammu and Kashmir to discuss security scenario, counter-infiltration strategy and terror funding. The meeting was attended among others by DGP Kuldeep Khoda and IG CID Dr B Srinivas from J&K. According to sources, the J&K authorities had refused to spare 60 para-military companies for the elections citing adverse inputs on militancy front and to strengthen Counter Insurgency Grid. However, the authorities finally spared 52 para-military companies with the request that they would be returned as and when elections are completed in five States. The Union Government has agreed that the para-military companies would be sent back to J&K after the completion of electoral process. According to sources, the State top brass of civil and police administration has assured the Union Government and the Election Commission that it would take all steps to ensure that no militant or criminal ventured into Punjab or any other elections bound State from J&K. It assured that borders with Punjab at Lakhanpur in Jammu and other areas of Kathua district would be sealed to completely stop flow of any unwarranted item like cash, liquor and drugs.