HM Hints At Pak Link To Srinagar Terror Attack

HM Hints At Pak Link To Srinagar Terror Attack

14 March 2013
The Daily Excelsior


New Delhi: Amid strong attack from various political parties over terror strike in Kashmir, Government today indicated Pakistani link to the attackers but refrained from saying that they belonged to that country. Making identical statements in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said some items bearing markings of Pakistan have been recovered from the terrorists who were killed in the encounter after attack on a CRPF camp. He made the statement after sharp criticism by members from various parties, who said the Government has repeatedly failed in preventing terror incidents as well in dealing with Pakistan from where it originates. “The killed terrorists are suspected to be of foreign origin,” he said about the incident in which five CRPF jawans lost their lives while battling the attackers. When pressed in the Rajya Sabha for clarifications, Shinde said he did not say that the terrorists were Pakistanis and only mentioned them as foreigners. “From the bodies of terrorists killed, two diaries, one each containing numbers suspected to be of Pakistanis, tube of Betnovate, a skin ointment were recovered. “Further investigations reveal that this tube was manufactured in Glaxo Smithkline Pak Ltd, at 35 Dockyard, Karachi. The name of the tube mentioned in Urdu and the numbers mentioned in the diaries appear to be of Pakistani origin,” he said. He insisted that the Government was dealing with terror strongly. “Yahan koi chudiyan nahin pahna hai. Sabke haath me taakat hai (Nobody is wearing bangles in their hands. Everybody is strong),” he said, responding to members’ criticism of being soft. At the same time, he said, the Government “knew there will be such attempts” after the execution of Mumbai terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab and Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Shinde said, “You wanted that we should take some action. If we do not take action, then you will say that the Government is sitting with hands tied.” The Home Minister said the bodies of the terrorists killed in the encounter were shaven, which confirms them to be fidayeens. “The killed terrorists are suspected to be of foreign origin…Although the responsibility for the incident was owned by an agent of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the authenticity of the claim is yet to be ascertained,” Shinde said. He disagreed with contentions that the situation on the terror front in the Valley has turned from bad to worse saying there has been decline in the number of terror incidents as well as infiltration incidents in Jammu and Kashmir in the last few years. “We are focusing on PoK and we are keeping a watch on the camps there. We are very vigilant. Our intelligence agencies are very serious,” the Home Minister said. He said many an incident is also prevented due to better intelligence coordination but that is not something to be highlighted on a daily basis. Responding to criticism that the forces were not adequately armed in the Valley and that half of the CRPF jawans do not have guns, the Home Minister said peace process is on in Jammu and Kashmir and the Government does not want to do it “by pointing out a gun” all the time and the problem is sometimes also contained with ‘lathi’ (cane) in hand. “We want to bring peace in Kashmir by giving a special package there…We, too, do not want to keep the military there for long,” he said. “I admit our intelligence should be more powerful,” Shinde said. Citing figures to support his contention that terrorist incidents in Kashmir had reduced, Shinde said against 1990 incidents in 2005 in which 189 security personnel, 970 terrorists and 557 civilians were killed, the number of such incidents reduced to only 220 in 2012 where only 15 security personnel and 15 civilians, besides 72 terrorists were killed. The Home Minister said against 406 infiltration attempts in the Kashmir Valley in 2005 of which 255 were successful, such infiltration attempts were reduced to only 222 in 2012 and 121 of these were successful. Shinde said that the Government was seized of the issue terrorist training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and was “keeping a watch on such camps”. The Minister said the three-fold fencing along the international border had helped to a large extent in checking cases of infiltration and the reduced terror incidents. He said he would be visiting Gujarat on 25th of this month to help strengthen the international border and have fencing there to avoid any infiltration bids from across the border. Shinde said the number of terrorist incidents in the Kashmir Valley had reduced gradually over the years since 2005. He, however, said the infiltration attempts in the Valley had increased to 222 in 2012 against 188 in 2011 and 288 in 2010. Of these, 121 were successful in 2012 against only 52 successful attempts in 2010 and 82 in 2010 in the Valley. The infiltration attempts in 2006 were 355 and Kashmir Valley and 218 in Jammu region of which 251 and 92 respectively were successful. On terrorist incidents, he said there were 340 of them in 2011 in which 33 security personnel, 31 civilians and 100 terrorists were killed, while there were as many as 488 such incidents in 2010 in which 69 security personnel and 47 civilians and 232 terrorists were killed. In 2008, Shinde said there were 708 incident in which 75 security personnel, 91 civilians and 339 terrorists were killed, against 499 incidents in 2009 in which 79 security personnel, 71 civilians and 239 terrorists were killed. Earlier, the Lok Sabha today expressed profound sorrow at the terrorist attack at a CRPF camp in Srinagar in which five CRPF jawans were killed and six others injured. As soon as the House assembled for the day, Speaker Meira Kumar made the reference. ”Such acts of extremist and terrorist violence deserve to be condemned in the strongest terms. Let us reiterate our resolve to stand united in our fight against terrorism in all its manifestations,” she said. The House expressed profound sorrow on the ”tragic incident which has brought pain and suffering to the affected families”. The House then stood in silence for a short while as a mark of respect to the memory of the departed. Meanwhile, Opposition today accused the Government of failing to check terror strikes in the country, including yesterday’s attack in Srinagar. “The External Affairs Minister treats Pakistani Prime Minister to a sumptuous lunch when he comes to Ajmer Sharif and just four days later, this terror attack happens. … We should unite and challenge Pakistan,” Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha during the Zero Hour. “I salute the Diwan of Ajmer Sharif (who refused to welcome the visiting Pakistani Premier last week). He did what the Government could not do,” Swaraj said, seeking a response from the Government on the Srinagar terror strike. She lamented that “the front row of the treasury bench was empty when the House was condoling the death of the CRPF personnel earlier today. Neither the Leader of the House (Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde), nor senior Ministers or the UPA chairperson (Sonia Gandhi) were present when the Speaker was making the obituary reference. It is a sad situation.” Swaraj said it was “very shameful” that every other day Pakistan was attacking Indian soldiers, including beheading one of them recently, and “there is no reaction.” “We got some assurance when the visa on arrival (to Pakistanis) was stopped and the Prime Minister made a statement that business as usual will not do”, but the attacks happened again, she said. Heated exchanges took place between members of National Conference (NC) and the BJP, when Swaraj said, “These attacks are occurring when there is a demand for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).” As soon as Swaraj spoke of AFSPA, NC members Sharifuddin Shariq and Mirza Mehboob Beg were on their feet shouting that the law, which gave stringent powers to the armed forces, should be withdrawn, prompting BJP members to rise and shout back. Beg and Shariq shouted back saying “hundreds of our youth have been killed, our party workers have been killed and maimed and nobody sheds tears for them.” An agitated Shariq also came into the aisle a couple of times. They were supported by RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Samajwadi Party’s Shailendra Kumar, who wanted the Chair to allow them to speak. Prasad also said “BJP’s agenda is being discussed and we are not being heard. You should allow them (NC members) to have their say.” Following the heated exchanges, Swaraj told the NC members “today is not the day for us to challenge each other but to challenge Pakistan unitedly” and asked Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to make a statement. After the Home Minister’s statement, members of the SP, RJD and AIMIM walked out saying they were not allowed to speak on such an important issue. As they left the House, the Speaker asked them to give a notice for holding a debate on the matter. Asserting that “condolence for the dead and compensation for the survived” cannot be the government policy after every such attack, M Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) asked the Government to understand the seriousness and go into the core of the issue. “This is handiwork of our neighbour…What is the approach of the Government, Pakistan is aiding and abetting terrorism …Government should show courage and responsibility and put an end to this,” he said in Rajya Sabha. Naidu said Pro-Pakistan militant group Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed the responsibility for it and Government should make its stand clear on the issue. The senior BJP leader also demanded that the “Government should appreciate those jawans who lost their lives and salute them.” Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) while offering heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to the jawans killed wanted to know as to what measures were initiated by the Government to check such attacks in the wake of hanging of Afzal Guru. “It is not only a question of doing postmortem after attack. Naresh Agrawal (SP) took a dig at Home Minister Shinde saying he did mention that the ointment recovered from terrorists was manufactured in Karachi but failed to mention as to which nation the attackers belonged to. “Why the Government in the country is hesitating to name Pakistan? Come out with concrete announcements. Please specify if your Government is weak because all such attacks are done to demoralise the nation,” he said. Agarwal said it was a matter of serious concern that the Government was a silent spectator while Sri Lankan forces killed innocent Tamils and Italian marines killed fishermen. Former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha (BJP) questioned the Government over its ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards terrorism. He said in the Lok Sabha that the Government looked “helpless” in dealing with terrorism as well as Pakistan. “It is a tragedy that out great country has not been able to deal with terrorism,” he said. In the Rajya Sabha, Derek O’ Brien (TMC) said it was a matter of deep concern that not a single person from any political party went to meet the bereaved family members of the jawans who lost their lives fighting for the nation. Asking the Government to take a firm stand and initiate action against people behind the crime, D P Tripathi (NCP) said the incident would have an adverse impact on tourism in the State. Tiruchi Siva (DMK) said the CRPF camp which was attacked was short of ammunition. K C Tyagi (JD-U) questioned the Government as to why 8,000 of the 25,000 CRPF jawans posted in J&K were not armed with weapons especially when the Home Minister himself had said he expected retaliation after the hanging of Afzal Guru. He lamented that of the five jawans killed, four were not armed and sought an all party meeting immediately while asking what steps the Government had initiated to restore peace in Kashmir where schools were closed since February 9 after Afzal’s hanging. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (BJP) sought to know why statements of Home Minister and Home Secretary were contradictory. Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology, which was a constitutional body, was openly appealing to fidayeens to attack India but why is the Government silent on the issue, he asked. Ram Kripal Yadav (RJD) questioned as to why the Government failed to beef up security despite knowing the threats of attack in the wake of Afzal’s hanging. Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena) wondered why the Government was not giving a befitting reply to Pakistan and offered to provide nationalists to attack the neighbouring nation if the Government did not have courage to do so. The remarks of G N Ratanpuri (J&K NC), who sought to raise the issues of Afzal Guru’s hanging were expunged by the Chair following strong objections raised by both the opposition and treasury benches. The issue earlier led to noisy scenes in the Rajya Sabha as Shinde could not come to the House at 12.30 pm to make a statement on the incident. M Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) said the Home Minister should have been present in the House in time. A war of words broke out between Naresh Agarwal (SP) and Minster of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla as the SP member said the Home Minister is not even in the Lok Sabha. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath later tried to pacify the members saying that Shinde was sitting in the Lok Sabha. The Home Minister came to the House at 12:50 pm to make the statement. The BJP today said the Government extended the red carpet to Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf despite the beheading of an Indian soldier and rued that even after the Srinagar terror attack the UPA regime is only engaging in issuing statements instead of taking action. “The attack, which was sponsored by Pakistan, was another conspiracy against India. Pakistan continues to commit this mistake again and again but our Government thinks its only responsibility is to issue statements about them,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters. The party strongly condemned in Parliament the Srinagar terror attack which led to the death of five CRPF jawans. Hussain maintained that after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent statement that it will not be business as usual BJP expected some strong steps will be taken. “But the Government did not take any action. When the Pakistan Prime Minister came here last Sunday our External Affairs Minister had time to offer him delicious lunch but did not utter a word on the beheading of our soldier Hemraj,” he said. The BJP maintained that Pakistan is not likely to mend its ways in the present situation. The party insisted that Ashraf was not just a pilgrim and India’s concern should have been conveyed to Pakistan in strong words. “Instead of taking up this issue, the Indian Government played a gracious host. Now after the Srinagar attack while the whole country is agitated, the Home Minister has come out with just a statement,” Hussain said. BJP attacked Khurshid for his comments that the NDA Government had hosted then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in Agra, saying he should stop rubbing salt on wounds of those saddened by the killing of Indian soldiers. “If Khurshid learnt some lessons from the Diwan of Ajmer dargah who refused to assist Ashraf in offering prayers, he would not offer lunch to him,” Hussain said. He claimed that in Agra, the NDA had clearly told Musharraf to criticise terrorism or go back empty-handed. “He could not even visit the dargah then. In Agra we had given a strong reply to Pakistan,” Hussain said. The BJP also hit out at Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for committing the faux pas in Lok Sabha of re-reading part of his speech, saying this shows the level of seriousness in this Government. It advised Shinde to “act and not react” and not just read out statements. “You should not read out the FIR like a station officer. As Home Minister you are expected not merely to make a statement but tell the House what strong steps are being taken,” Hussain said. The BJP emphasised that Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act should be strictly imposed in Jammu and Kashmir. “Some people espouse the cause of the attackers more than the cause of the martyred… We are not ready to listen to a single word against AFSPA. Latest and most modern weapons should be provided to our soldiers to fight terror,” he said. The Opposition was also scathing on the Home Ministry’s claim after attacks that Intelligence alerts were sent out. “The Home Minister always parrots out a statement after any attack that we had sent out alerts that this can happen. It seems every morning the home ministry faxes such alerts. Centre’s job is not just to send intelligence alerts but also take preventive steps,” Hussain said. “You are not the Information and Broadcasting Minister. That ministry is with Manish Tewari. You are the Home Minister,” he added, addressing Shinde.