India ready to face any threat but wants peace on borders: HM

India ready to face any threat but wants peace on borders: HM

12 October 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said today that India was ready to face any threat on the borders but added that there appeared to be no threat to the country along China border, where he visited last week during his tour of Leh district. He reiterated that India stood for peace with its neighbours. He said India would take up at highest level with Pakistan the digging of tunnel inside Indian territory by the Pakistan authorities at forward area of Chechwal in Samba sector. He said India has taken serious note of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts from Pakistan and he had taken up the issue with Pakistan’s Internal Security Minister Rehman Malik during SAARC meet at Maldives. In an informal chat with reporters at Chakan-Da-Bagh on Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district and Octroi Post at Suchetgarh sector in RS Pura tehsil along the International Border (IB) on first day of his three days visit to the State, Mr Shinde, who was accompanied by Union Home Secretary RK Singh, said he recently visited forward village of Pangong along China border during his visit to Leh and found no presence of Chinese. Nevertheless, he added, India is ready to face any threat but it always wanted peace with its neighbours. Mr Shinde, who had visited the Sino-Indian border in Leh last week, said there was no infiltration by Chinese troops there. 'I have been asked this question by mediapersons after my visit to Pangong Lake (Chinese bordering area in Ladakh) about the movement of Chinese there. I found there is no infiltration (transgression of Chinese troops),' he said. Shinde also said 'there is no problem from China (in Ladakh sector) till now.' Besides visiting the LoC and IB, the Union Home Minister met a number of delegations at the Guest House and received memorandums from them. He paid obeisance at Ragunath temple in the City and flew to Srinagar at 5.30 pm. He had a dinner meeting with Governor NN Vohra during which both discussed security and other issues of the State. He would preside over a high level security review meeting in Srinagar tomorrow and visit forward Neeru Post of BSF in Gurez sector. He would fly back to New Delhi on October 14 morning. Mr Shinde flew to Srinagar late in the afternoon and had over an hour long one-to-one meeting with Governor NN Vohra at Raj Bhawan, where he would have halt for two nights. Mr Shinde and Mr Vohra discussed issues which related inter-alia to ongoing pace of socio-economic development of the State, strengthening the functioning of Panchayats, elections to Panchayat Samitis and Urban Local Bodies and matters pertaining to internal and external security management, official sources said. Shinde said the people of Jammu and Kashmir have suffered a lot and visiting the State was his priority soon after taking charge of the Union Home Ministry. 'Earlier this week, I visited Leh and Kargil to take stock of the security situation and development process in these districts,' he added. Mr Shinde said the Centre would consider demand of cross-LoC trader for ISD services, at least on landline telephones, for communication link with their counterparts in PoK and multiple entry visa to them so that they could visit other side of the LoC, study the market and place the order in a bid to boost the trade. To a question on the State Government’s refusal to toe the line of Congress Governments on increasing cap of subsidized LPG cylinders from 6 to 9 per year, the Home Minister said he would speak to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on this issue in Srinagar tomorrow. Mr Shinde said the issues of infiltration and ceasefire violations are being discussed with Pakistan from time to time. 'Issues like ceasefire violations and infiltrations are matter of concern but they are being taken up with high commands at the right quarters’’, he said. The Union Home Minister said 'earlier we had taken up the issue with Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik at Maldives during SAARC meet but still it is being discussed with them’’. He said, 'It is right that some times infiltrations do take place, but our jawans and officers are doing a commendable job and I appreciate them.' He said he has reviewed the fencing along the International Border and found it very powerful fencing. 'There might be some reasons of infiltrations and the Union Home Ministry have reports about it’’, he added. 'The issue (of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts) will be taken up tomorrow at high level security review meeting in Srinagar’’, Mr Shinde said. He lauded the jawans for being alert and performing their tasks in very difficult terrains. Replying to a question, Mr Shinde said the construction of tunnel by Pakistan authorities inside the Indian territory at Chechwal in Samba sector would be taken up at highest level with Pakistan. It may be reported here that India had detected 540 meters tunnel constructed underground inside the Indian territory at Chechwal in Samba sector. The tunnel originated from Pakistan. After detection of the tunnel, Pakistan has violated ceasefire a number of times on the IB in Jammu sector killing one BSF jawan and recently injuring two civilians, working in their fields. On a question of security to Sarpanchs and Panchs, he said this issue would also figure in tomorrow’s security review meeting. 'We are concerned about their security’’, he added. Tomorrow’s security review meeting would be attended among others by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Union Home Secretary RK Singh, Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani and top brass of civil and police administration, security and Intelligence agencies in which all aspects of security scenario including situation prevailing in the State besides LoC and IB would be discussed threadbare. Replying to a question, Mr Shinde said the Centre has taken a 'very serious' note of the series of rape cases in Haryana. 'The Centre is in touch with the State Government on the issue ... It is a serious matter,' he said. 'This is a very serious matter, particularly concerning Dalit people. This has been done (with Dalit girls) - so we are very serious on this', he added. He, however, refused to be drawn into a controversy on the controversial statement of Congress Minister in Haryana, Dharamveer Goyat on the rapes. 'I won’t comment on the statement of individuals’’, he asserted. Replying to another question on attempts being made to revive militancy in Punjab and subsequent attack on Gen Brar, he said, 'after all it is to be looked up by the State and I do not want to disturb the Centre-State relations.' 'If militancy is revived, the country will suffer economic loss,' he said, adding the country was now marching towards the path of peace and development. On the IB at Octroi Post in Suchetgarh, Mr Shinde visited extreme forward posts of the BSF and inter-acted with BSF Commanders and jawans. He was accompanied by the DG BSF UC Bansal, DGP Ashok Prasad and other senior officers of civil and police administration. He also addressed Sainik Sammelan at Octroi Post and lauded the courage of the jawans. He called upon them to maintain the same bravery to thwart intrusion bids. He inspected fencing and posed some questions to the BSF officers. Earlier in the morning, soon after his arrival here, Mr Shinde flew to Poonch town and drove to Chakan-Da-Bagh cross-LoC point, which is opened every Monday for cross-LoC bus service between two parts of divided State and for trade from Tuesday to Friday. Assuring full help from the Centre, Mr Shinde promised to remove all hurdles in the path of strengthening of cross-LoC trade with Pakistan. 'Cross-LoC trade would be further strengthened- the hurdles would be removed', Shinde told a delegation of cross-LoC traders at Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing point. Cross-LoC Traders Association president Pawan Anand led the delegation. Reviewing the cross-LoC trade, Shinde assured traders of full help from the Central Government and promised them that he would raise their demands at the Centre. The Home Minister was flanked by Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani, Chief Secretary Madhav Lal, DGP Ashok Prasad, BSF DG, Special Director IB and Commissioner Customs besides divisional-level officers of Jammu. The Cross-LoC Traders’ Panel demanded setting up of a communication network between two sides, one time visa to assess the markets on both sides of LoC by traders of both sides, spot deliveries, increase in number of cross-LoC trade items and seizure of goods like almonds by customs departments. The Union Home Minister also called for strict vigilance to stop smuggling from across the LoC. The Minister also held meetings with officers concerning the LoC trade and travel after conducting inspection of Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC). Deputy Commissioner, Poonch AK Sahu and SSP Poonch Shamsheer Hussain were also present in the meeting. President of Cross-LoC traders Association Pawan Anand and general secretary Krishen Singh told Shinde that trade has been virtually dying down in view of restrictions on various items and cumbersome procedures. Referring to cross-LoC trade, he said, 'cross LoC trade has smoothly taken place after a very good start- there is a good beginning- it is going on smoothly'. 'I have talked to traders and officers concerned with the trade who have raised with me their difficulties and problems during cross-LoC trade. There is a problem of blocking of some of the banned items in the trade, which get halted here. 'I had taken up the issue with the Interior Minister of Pakistan on the sidelines of SAARC meeting in Maldives and today we had also been taken up the issue with officers here and in Srinagar', Mr Shinde said. Mr Anand told Mr Shinde that trade has just been reduced from crores to lakhs and from 21 items to two items (bananas and onions). He called for increasing number of items, lifting ban on import of some items, multiple visa to traders for a month to study market in each other’s territory and ISD facility. Mr Shinde described cross-LoC trade as a biggest Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between India and Pakistan and said the country was determined to take all measures to boost it. The directions to give fillip to the trade would be passed on to the authorities, he said, adding the issue would also be taken up with his counterpart in Pakistan. In the afternoon, Mr Shinde visited Ragunath temple and offered prayers. He visited the temple premises for about half an hour and was briefed by the ‘pujaris’ on historic significance of the religious place.convener, Hardeep.