Situation in Kashmir returning to normalcy: HM

Situation in Kashmir returning to normalcy: HM

13 October 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde today said that the situation in Kashmir is returning to normalcy and gave its credit to the people of the State. This he said after visiting Srinagar city centre, Lal Chowk and other market places in the Civil Lines area that has seen highest violence in 23 years of militancy. This is for the first time that any Union Home Minister has visited the city centre and interacted with the people and shopped there since militancy erupted in State. While having ice-cream at Sangarmal Shopping Complex on M A Road in Srinagar after the whirlwind city market tour, the Union Minister said that situation in Kashmir is fast returning to normalcy. 'The credit for this goes to people of Kashmir. The busy market places in the late evening are an indication of the improved situation in Kashmir', he said, adding 'I shopped and had ice-cream in the market.' Earlier in the evening, Omar drove the Union Home Minister to the city centre where he waved the passerby and the shoppers. The Home Minister didn't come out of his vehicle near Ganta Ghar but he stood there for at least one minute. Lal Chowk has historical importance in State politics. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru, along with former Chief Minister and founder of National Conference, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, addressed joint gathering here in 1947 and 1948. It is here where Abdullah recited a Persian couplet announcing his un-separable friendship with Nehru 'I became you and You became I; so none can say we are separate.' The Home Minister started his city tour by first visiting Polo View Shopping Centre and purchased 3 Kashmir art suits from a Kashmir art shop. He stayed in the shop for about 5 minutes before heading towards Lal Chowk. The Home Minister also purchased fruits from Hari Singh High Street before heading for Sangarmal Shopping Complex where he had ice-cream. However, during the city tour of the Home Minister security was on high alert but there was not much disturbance caused to the common people at the market places where he visited. However, over 300 policemen were present in these market places in civvies to avoid any disturbance. Prior to his city tour, the Home Minister attended function of Delhi Public School at Pantha Chowk in Srinagar. He interacted with the school children who presented colourful cultural show on the occasion. He was accompanied to the school by Medical Education Minister R S Chib. Earlier in the day while speaking to reporters at Hazratbal, Shinde said that he has asked the State Government to take necessary steps for providing security to the Panchs and Sarpanchs. He said that the issue was discussed with the top security officials of the State and added that Chief Minister is also concerned about their security. He said that Government will take all necessary steps for the safety and security of the Panchayat members. 'It is the domain of the State Government and it will look into it', he added. The Home Minister said that he had a long desire to visit the Hazratbal shrine for which he has high reverence. 'For long time I had a desire to visit this place and it has been fulfilled. I as Home Minister of the country got a chance to visit here', he said adding, 'I prayed for the peace and prosperity of the country.' The Home Minister who after chairing the Unified Headquarters meeting at SKICC boarded a mortar boat to visit Hazratbal where he de-boarded in the lawns of the shrine and paid obeisance. He went through Nehru Park basin, Kabutarkhana, Charchinari, Dal interiors to take review of the Dal lake conservation. He was briefed about the measures taken for conservation of the water body for which Centre has sanctioned over Rs 350 crore. Earlier in the morning, Home Minister's visit to Line of Control (LoC) in Gurez sector was cancelled due to inclement weather in Gurez in North Kashmir's Bandipora district. He was scheduled to visit Neeru post on the LoC to interact with the troops of 113 Battalion of BSF. It may be mentioned here that the Gurez has been one of the active routes of infiltration and this year due to heavy snowfall much damage was caused to the counter-infiltration LoC fence and in fact at places the fence was buried under snow. The Home Minister while chairing the Unified Headquarter meeting at SKICC this morning lauded security forces for dealing with internal and external threats in the State and assured them Centre's full support in maintaining peace in the State. Shinde appreciated the Police, Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Force (BSF) for dealing with the law and problems in Kashmir valley. The security force officials gave detailed briefing to the Home Minister regarding the law and order situation and measures taken by the security agencies in maintaining calm in the State despite untiring efforts by separatists and militants to disturb peace in the State especially in the Valley. The Home Minister lauded the role of security agencies in dealing with the militancy within the State and foiling infiltration bids from across the LoC. He was briefed about the designs of the Pakistan, which was trying to push in large number of militants into the State to foment trouble. He was told that over 600 highly trained militants are waiting across the LoC in PoK to infiltrate into the State. The security agencies told him that since large numbers of infiltration bids were foiled by the Army along the LoC, militant leaders are desperate to push in large number of militants before the onset of winter. He was briefed about the various measures taken to check infiltration and on the counter-insurgency operations in the hinterland across the State. He was also briefed about the successes achieved by the security forces in the hinterland. Sources said that the Home Minister asked the Army and other security agencies to remain alert ahead of the winter and strengthen the counter-insurgency grid. Shinde was also briefed about the security of Panchs and Sarpanchs during the meeting. He asked the State Government and security officials to take steps that will ensure a general sense of security among the grassroots level representatives. The security officials told the Home Minister that Government has already taken steps to give sense of security to the Panchayat members. He was told that although individual security to Panchayat members is not possible, however, Government is taking a review in the vulnerable areas of Kashmir valley where they were targeted by militants. The Unified Headquarter meeting was attended by Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, Minister of State for Home, Nasir Aslam Wani, Union Home Secretary, R K Singh, GOC-in-C Northern Command, Lt General K T Parnaik, Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal, Principal Secretary Home, Iqbal Khandey, Director General Police, Ashok Prasad, GOC 15 Corps, GOC 14 Corps, GOC 16 Corps, GOC 9 Corps, Director General BSF, Director General CRPF, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, BB Vyas and Additional Director General Police Law and Order, K Rajendra. The meeting was also attended by Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Samoon, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Pradeep Gupta, Additional Director General CRPF, IGP Kashmir, IGP Jammu, IGP CID, Additional Commissioner SB, Special Director IB and Media Advisor, Bharti Vaid. An official statement said here that Home Minister had a separate meeting with Chief Minister soon after Unified Headquarter meeting, during which various outstanding issues with the Centre including transmission and distribution projects under PMRP, funding of Baglihar phase II, accelerating pace of Udhan and Himayat schemes were discussed. 'The Chief Minister stressed on additional package of assistance to the State Government for subsidizing additional LPG cylinders for the consumers of the state. He also emphasized the need for approval by the Central Government to the proposal of the State Government for enhancing assistance package to the Kashmiri Pandits', the statement added. Meanwhile, Shinde is visiting Charar-e-Sharief in the Central Kashmir district of Budgam tomorrow to pay obeisance at the revered Sufi Shrine which is regarded as symbol of Kashmiriyat. The Home Minister will visit the shrine early in the morning that was gutted along with the major part of the town in 1995 after militants had taken over the town along with the shrine. Shinde will also interact with the local Congress leaders on the sidelines of his visit to the shrine. Before leaving for New Delhi, Shinde will address Congress workers at Congress headquarters in Srinagar in the afternoon. The Congress workers and leaders are scheduled to raise the issue of 73rd amendment of the Indian Constitution in the State Panchayat Act with their Central leader.