Friday, August 10, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Centre determined to crush proxy war
Oppn seeks Advani’s resignation, stages walkout
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 9
The combined opposition today demanded the Home Minister’s resignation for his “failure” to prevent killings in Jammu and Kashmir in the two Houses of Parliament, even as Mr L. K. Advani declared the Centre’s resolve to crush Pakistan-sponsored proxy war, saying the state would be asked to consider enactment of an anti-terrorist law to combat militancy.

Launching a scathing attack on the government for not having a coherent policy, an agitated Opposition said the government had failed to take appropriate security measures, despite Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s description of terrorism in J and K as a “freedom struggle”.

Dissatisfied with Mr Advani’s statement and his subsequent reply to a calling attention motion on the Doda killings which in their view did not answer their queries and clarifications , the entire Opposition staged a walkout with some members raising slogans demanding immediate resignation of the Home Minister.

In his reply, marked by pointed queries by Congress and Left Party members, the Home Minister asserted “Pakistan was defeated in three wars. Similarly in this proxy war we will succeed in defeating it.”

The Home Minister, who made an identical statement in the Rajya Sabha, said special intelligence-backed security operations based on surprise and speed would also be considered as per requirement of the ground situation.

The Jammu and Kashmir government had decided to declare the remaining portions of the Jammu province as “disturbed areas” to curb militancy and measures were being initiated to restore confidence among the people especially those living in Doda-Kishtwar, Mr Advani told members of the two Houses.

“I wish to assure this august House that the Government shall leave no stone unturned in bringing back peace to Jammu and Kashmir,” the Home Minister said in reply to a calling attention motion on the situation arising out of the recent killings of members of a minority community in Doda and Jammu.

Seeking clarifications, Congress Chief Whip P.R. Dasmunshi lashed out at the government for its “inaction and callousness” reminding the Home Minister of a statement made by him two years back declaring that he would resign if such massacres recurred.

The CPM leader, Mr Somnath Chatterjee, wanted to know whether it was the Prime Minister’s Office, the Home Ministry or the J and K Government responsible for the people’s safety and security.

Initiating the debate, Congress MP from Chandigarh Pawan Kumar Bansal wanted to know what pro-active policy had been adopted by the government in the wake of sustained targeting of Hindus by the terrorists. Mr Bansal said the Home Minister’s statement was “most disappointing” and the attitude of the government continued to be “callous”.

The Congress member said the “steely image of Sardar Patel” sought to be adopted by Mr Advani had been “shattered to smithereens” and wanted to know whether paramilitary forces posted in the upper reaches of Doda-Kishtwar areas had been withdrawn six months back.

Mr Bansal, pointing at Mr Advani, asked “did he not really say two years back in Jammu that if such an incident recurred he would resign?”

The BJP member, Mr Vijay Goel accused the Opposition of politicising the issue. Mr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD) asked how many more killings would it take for the Home Minister to step down?

Earlier, Mr Advani gave details of the high-level meeting held yesterday evening saying measures for upgrading security arrangements at the Jammu railway station, including its fencing and better illumination as well as coordinated security efforts for the station, were agreed upon at yesterday’s meeting convened by him for a comprehensive review of the situation in J and K.

He said “it must be appreciated that what we are fighting is a proxy war of multiple dimensions unleashed by an inimical neighbouring country which has had no qualms in rationalising the brutal killing of innocent men, women and children as a freedom struggle.”

Seeking cooperation from all in crushing militancy and terrorism, Mr Advani said the government was determined to thwart the nefarious designs of terrorists and their mentors across the border and not to let the counter-insurgency grid be thinned out.

“Nor will we reduce the anti-infiltration posture of our security forces. We remain committed to take all possible steps for the protection of remote, scattered and minority population in J and K,” he said.

Mr Advani said terrorist groups in J and K had continuously showed total disregard for the yearning for peace and normalcy on the part of the people of the state and had not responded positively to government’s unilateral Ramzan peace initiative.

Following the withdrawal of non-initiation of combat operations, the security forces had stepped up operations against the terrorists. Significant success had been achieved in these operations with the number of terrorists killed in June being 217 and in July being 233, he said.

In an effort to divert this pressure, terrorists had been resorting to high visibility acts of violence in J and K. During this period terrorists had carried out attacks on innocent civilians at the Sheshnag Amarnath yatri camp on July 21, two separate incidents of killing in Doda-Kishtwar area on July 21 and 22, a third incident in Doda-Kishtwar area on August 4 and indiscriminate firing on innocent persons at the Jammu railway station on August 7, the Home Minister said.

Their other objectives were to create a communal divide with possible repercussions not only in J and K but also in the rest of the country, to strike terror among the people, to force minorities to flee to safer places thereby giving the terrorists space for their activities to be carried out freely and to attract media attention both nationally and internationally, Mr Advani said.

“The unified headquarters have been directed to initiate fresh tactics and modify dynamic deployments to ensure that people in affected areas, especially in Doda-Kishtwar, feel reassured and confident,” the Home Minister said adding that four more districts in Jammu region including Doda were being declared “disturbed areas” giving greater powers to the security forces to deal with the terrorists.

Mr Advani said the government was also contemplating action against “overground elements” in J and K who were giving tacit support to the terrorists. He, however, did not elaborate.

The number of Special Police Officers (SPOs) authorised for Doda had been increased by 1,000 and, along with increasing effectiveness of existing village defence committees (VDCs), setting up of “Dhoke (temporary shelter)” defence committees for villagers who took their livestock to graze in higher mountainous reaches would also be experimented, he said.

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